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Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 


Cyr Copertini 

Martin Huff 

Campaign Housekeeping, 

From Grassroots Politics 
to the California 
Franchise Tax Board, 

With an Introduction by 
Elizabeth Gatov 

Interviews Conducted by 

Gabrielle Morris 

in 1986 

Copyright (CM 1987 by The Regents of the University of California 

This manuscript is made available for research 
purposes. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for 
publication without the written permission of the 
Director of The Bancroft Library of the University of 
California, Berkeley. 

Requests for permission to quote for publication 
should be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 
486 Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720, 
and should include identification of the specific 
passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, 
and identification of the user. 

It is recommended that this oral history be cited 
as follows : 

To cite the volume: California Democrats' 

Golden Era, 1958-1966, an oral history 
conducted in 1986, Regional Oral History 
Office, The Bancroft Library, University 
of California, Berkeley, 1987. 

To cite individual interview: Cyr 
Copertini, "Campaign Housekeeping, 1940- 
1965," an oral history conducted 1986 by 
Gabrielle Morris, in California 
Democrats' Golden Era, 1958-1966, 
Regional Oral History Office, The 
Bancroft Library, University of 
California, Berkeley, 1987. 

Copy No . 


One of the primary charges of the Regional Oral History Office is the 
documentation of California government and political history. Since 1969, 
the Office has conducted extensive projects focused on the administrations 
of Governors Earl Warren, Goodwin Knight, Edmund G. Brown, Sr. , and Ronald 
Reagan, covering the period 1932-1974. 

In addition to elected and appointed officials in the executive, 
legislative, and judicial branches of government, the Office has been 
especially interested in collecting data on the Democratic and Republican 
parties and election campaigns, as well as the work of citizens active in 
formal party work and advocacy of crucial public issues. Documentation of 
the history of the Democratic party includes thoughtful oral histories with 
such Democratic leaders of the 1950s and 1960s as Don Bradley, Edmund G. "Pat" 
Brown, Elizabeth Smith Gatov, Roger Kent, and Thomas Lynch, among others.* 
Many of these interviews mention the devoted and expert roles of Cyr Copertini 
and Martin Huff in significant activities. 

In addition to close political cooperation, personal friendships 
developed among many of those who worked together in those years. This 
volume of interviews is a tribute to those friendships. After the death of 
Don Bradley in 1981, friends and associates presented a gift in his memory to 
the Regional Oral History Office for continuing work on the history of the 
California Democratic party. After careful consideration, Cyr Copertini and 
Martin Huff were invited to be interviewed because of unique perspectives 
on day-to-day operations and finances of the state central committee during 
the era when Bradley managed key Democratic campaigns. 

The Office takes this opportunity to thank the many friends of Don 
Bradley who made these interviews possible. They are listed on the following 

Gabrielle Morris, Interviewer-Editor 
Regional Oral History Office 

August 1987 

Regional Oral History Office 
486 The Bancroft Library 
University of California, Berkeley 

* Don Bradley, Managing Democratic Campaigns, 1954-1966, 1982 

Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, Sr., Years of Growth, 1939-1966: Law Enforcement, 

Politics, and the Governor's Office, 1982 
Elizabeth Smith Gatov, Grassroots Party Organizer to Treasurer of the United 

States, 1978. 

Roger Kent, Building the Democratic Party in California, 1954-1966, 1981. 
Thomas Lynch, A Career in Politics and the Attorney General's Office, 1982. 

The above are publications of the Regional Oral History Office, University 
of California, Berkeley, available in the reading room of The Bancroft 
Library. See also series lists for Government History Documentation Project. 



Stanley Arnold, Susanville 

Jerry E. Berg, San Francisco 

Jean Black, San Francisco 

Richard C. Blum and Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco 

Roger Boas, San Francisco 

Chuck Bosley, Shepherds town, West Virginia 

James Browne , Sacramento 

Winslow and Donna Christian, San Francisco 

Cyr and Lloyd Copertini, San Francisco 

Dick and Jean Day, Santa Rosa 

Betty Dempsey, Castro Valley 

Ann Eliaser, San Francisco 

Cathy E. Fuller, Helena, Montana 

Frederick P. Furth, San Francisco 

John W. Hall, San Francisco 

Elinor Heller, Atherton 

Joseph Houghteling, San Francisco 

Anne and Martin Huff, Sacramento 

Andrea I. Jepson, San Francisco 

Howard and Nancy Jewel, Oakland 

Alice C. Kent, Kentfield 

Marshall Kilduff, San Francisco 

Francis McCarty, San Francisco 

Harold I. McGrath, Santa Rosa 

Hon. George Miller, Member of Congress 

Harold Morgan, San Rafael 

Richard Nevins , Arcadia 

Robert F. Peckham, San Francisco 

Louise Ringwalt, Sam Clemente 

Thelma Shelley, San Francisco 

Nancy Sloss, Washington, D.C. 

Stuart Spencer, Irvine 

Jack and Vickie Tomlinson, San Francisco 

Charles S. Warn, Santa Monica 

Marianne Weigel, Kensington 

Robert and Evelyn Williams, Oakland 

Sally Laidlaw Williams, Oakland 

Charles and Annie Winner, Los Angeles 



It was a genuine grass-roots effort that engaged the prolific talents 
of Martin Huff and Cyr Copertini. An effort that lifted the Democratic 
party in California from the political basement to the penthouse of 
representation and administration in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. 

Some have joyously labeled it the Golden Age of California Democrats. 

In those days, because of the numbers of people involved in the 
party's efforts to win elections, two particular linchpins were required 
to keep the operation on track and functioning. 

One was a financial manager who could answer the persistent question, 
"What did you do with the MONEY?" to satisfy the cynical and assiduous 
readers of financial reports. That was Martin, whom anyone, on sight, 
would want to have as executor of an estate, or to be the person to find 
one unconscious after an accident. 

If he had lived two hundred years earlier, Martin very likely 
would have been a delegate to the Constitutional Convention where he 
would have contributed enormously to the resolution of conflicts, the major 
task of those who gathered in Philadelphia that summer. 

The other was the gyroscopic impresario who kept happy and motivated 
the curious collection of individuals who labored in political campaigns 
twenty and thirty years ago; they thought of themselves as "professional 
volunteers . " 

In those days, television consumed a very small part of the campaign 
budget; the bulk was spent on organization, which meant a network of 
people and their support apparatus; headquarters, telephones, mailings, 
printing, etc . 

People-managing, therefore, with careful attention to morale and 
fragile egos, was critically important. 

California Democrats, during the period of their political escalation, 
owed a vast amount of their success to Martin Huff and Cyr Copertini. 
Their skills contributed directly to the generation of trust among the 
participants and the resulting effusion of effort by volunteers and 
contributors who helped nominate the candidates the party offered to the 
voters and then went on to provide the structure of support needed to 
win the election in the fall. 


Martin Huff, the handily elected auditor-controller of the city of 
Oakland, was drafted to the position of party treasurer, a position 
especially sensitive at the time of the quarterly meetings of the state 
central committee when a statement of the party finances was obligatory. 

Martin, whose later career as Executive Officer of the state 
Franchise Tax Board provided an appropriate field for his talents, was 
able, before the computer age, to create a financial report that awed 
even those of us already familiar with the contents. A copy was placed 
on every chair in the meeting hall. Many pages long, cranked out on a 
mimeograph machine which was the state of the art in those days, it was 
so scrupulously detailed that by the time those intending to nit-pick 
had found the item of their interest, the report had long since been 
accepted . 

After a few of those documents had been examined at consecutive 
meetings, the cleanup squad found most of the financial reports still 
sitting on the chairs, squashed, unopened and unread. 

Such was the power of the trusted treasurer. And such was the 
stature he provided to the whole administration of the party. He shared 
his integrity with all of us. 

Cyr Copertini, the disarming ringmistress of the political 
menagerie, was adroit at creating an upbeat environment whatever the 
facts might imply. Her usual speaking tone had a musical lilt 
bordering on laughter that warmed the stoniest who heard it. She had 
the gift of motivating even the vaguest of volunteers who drifted into 
the office, of making them feel that without their inspired help the 
campaign was a lost cause. Yet quietly, without seeming to supervise, 
she knew precisely what was going on in every facet of the operation 
and kept a stream of communication flowing in both directions. 

To candidates and their staffs, Cyr was the morale officer and 
the foundation of reliable information. No matter what her spot on 
the non-existent organization chart might look like, or what her 
equally non-existent job description might have been, Cyr was IN CHARGE. 

Those years of building the California Democratic party and finally 
winning a record number of elections in the 1950s and '60s could not 
have happened without Cyr ' s genius in what are today called "communication 
skills" and Martin's manner of scrubbed-clean honesty. They built 
confidence, trust, and abiding affection into the party structure, and 
were integral members of the "212 Gang," the informal, hardworking 
group that coalesced around the leadership of Roger Kent at party 
headquarters in San Francisco. 

The firm relationships evolved by these two unpretentious people 
could not be equated in money. Their talent in human understanding 
made the system of those days work like a well-lubricated machine; 
I use the phrase with deep respect because I believe harmony under 
pressure is a rare condition in this contentious world. Their dedicated 
work, while painting with a small brush, was on a very large canvas. 

Their effectiveness changed the polity of California for the last 
thirty years, perhaps even longer. 

Elizabeth Gatov 
Former Democratic National 
Commit teem ember 

May 1987 

Kentfield, California 


Tues., October 6, 1981 



Don Bradley 

t. . ' ' ,...! - ' ^ 

By Scow Blakt? 
Donald L. Bradley, the 
wily political strategist re 
sponsible for the victories of 
three San Francisco mayor* 
and the successes of numer 
ous Democratic Party causes, 
died Friday. Be was C. 

A resident of Bolinas, he died 
at the University of California 
Medical Center at San Francisco 
after several weeks in the hospital. 

An irascible and witty man 
with a graveUy voice tuned by 
endless cigarets, Mr. Bradley head 
ed the successful campaigns of 
mayors Jack Shelley in 1063. 
George Moscone in 1975 and DUnne 
Feinstein io 1979. 

In a career that spanned four 
decades, Mr. Bradley ran more than 
130 campaigns, some losers and 
many winners. He was most closely 
'associated with mainstream and 
liberal Democrats, and his candi 
dates reflected that. He worked to 
elect Harry Truman, Adlai Steven 
son and Lyndon Johnson. 

He wa/one of the key figures 
in three of Edmund (Pat) Brown's 
campaigns for governor his 1958 
landslide over the late Senator 
William F Knowland. his 1962 
victory for re-election against Rich 
ard Nixon and his bitter defeat by 
Ronald Reagan in 1966, 

. He also ran several glamourless 
campaigns such as those involv 
ing sewer bond issues with' gusto. 

When his personal beliefs were 
involved, politics became a crusade, 
and a win such as the successful 
1978 drive to defeat the statewide 
Briggs anti-gay initiative some 
thing akin to moral victory. .,- 

"Unlike many in his profession. 

be was always committed to his 
candidate or cause." recalled Corey 
Buscr.. WDO wa? press secretary to 
toe late Mavor Moscone 

Democratic strategist 

Mr. Bradley a large Ban 
with a face creased like an BB- 
iroDed shirt and heavy jowls that 
testified to his delight in cooking 
and entertaining built a reputa 
tion early on as an astute behind- 
the-scenes operator in the world of 
getting votes. 

He first ran a campaign in 1948 
when he was Napa County Demo 
cratic chairman and headed up the 
Democrats' push for Harry Truman 

But his move into the main 
stream of California political life 
and the engineering of the Demo 
cratic takeover in Sacramento that 
endures to this day came with 
the victorious senatorial campaign 
of Dr. Stephen P. Teak of West 
Point (Calaveras County) in 1953., 
Teale won by 75 votes, and he went 
on to become a powerful figure in 
the state Senate. 

Mr! Bradley was Joined in the 
Teak race and in subsequent canv 
paigns by Pierre Salinger, who later 
became press secretary to Presi 
dent John F. Kennedy. Mr. Bradley 
went on to manage the capture of a 
number of mountain county seats, 
uhich gradually shifted the bal 
ance of power out t>f Republican 

As much as Mr Bradley cared 

* about politics, he also enjoyed the 
good life: travel and sports, good 

food and fiae spirits. 

V For r vhlk to the 16OH, Mr. 
Bradley nad a part Interest in a 
Boiinas bar named Smiley V 1t 
proved so popular that an ice cream 
establishment across the strest re 
named itself ScowleyV 

.: And once after losing a partial*; 
larly dose race, Bradley was beard 
to growl. The people have spokes 
.*- the bums.* 

Mayor Feinstein, in Manila 
heading a trade delegation, said, 
yesterday, "Very few people knew; 
and understood politics and the 
electorate with the acumen, sensi 
tivity and skill of Don Bradley. Don* 
was a politician's politician with 
solid organization skills, vast and; 
tested experience in acomples area 
and a tremendous network of 

Those fortunate enough tor 
have knows him found a leader 
they could respect, a -wily and 
tough advisor and a man who cared 
deeply about the overall quality of, 
our .political life," the mayor said. 

"My heartfelt condolences go 
out to his family and loved ones." 

Mr. Bradley is survived by his 
sons, Vernon of San Francisco and 
David of Fairfax, and he daughter.- 
Marsha Gifford of Corte Maden 
His former wife. Florence, lives in.' 

, ' No services arejflanned. > 




















. From left, City Manager Wayne Thompson, Huff 
n Houlihan, Council of Social Planning official 

Brown discuss Franchise Tax Board work 





















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Regional Oral History Office University of California 

The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 

The Don L. Bradley Memorial Project 

Cyr Copertini 

An Interview Conducted by 

Gabrielle Morris 

in 1986 

Copyright c 1987 by The Regents of the University of California 





The Forties and Fifties: Local and National Politics 

Interweave 1 

Building a Volunteer Base 9 

Women and Politics in the Fifties 13 

The Triumphant Era of Pat Brown 16 

The Turbulent Sixties 18 

Conclusion: Constant Ideas and Major Changes 25 



Regional Oral History Office University of California 

Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720 

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Brisk and petite, Cyr Copertini was a pleasure to interview. It 
took a while to find time for an interview in her busy life as scheduling 
secretary to San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein. On April 8, 1986, 
Feinstein had a meeting elsewhere, and Copertini perched on a chair in 
the darkly ornate mayor's office during lunch hour and breezed through 
forty years of nearly continuous Democratic party activity. "I took eight 
months off in 1950 to have a baby," she smiles. 

Her first job, right out of high school in 1942, was as secretary 
to William Malone, chief northern California Democrat of the 1940s. 
Before the tape recorder was turned on, Copertini smiled and commented 
that if she had known how important Malone was, she would have paid 
more attention to how he worked. In a few brief remarks, she brings to 
life successful small fundraising for Roosevelt's 1944 campaign, Malone 's 
contacts with national figures, insights on San Francisco politics. She 
continues with Roger Kent's work in strengthening the party statewide 
in the 1950s and '60s. Sometimes on the party payroll, sometimes on a 
candidate's, sometimes as a volunteer, Copertini managed through the 
years the mechanics essential to keeping political activities moving. 

Particularly interesting is her account of the 212 Gang, the energetic, 
able loyalists who worked together at 212 Sutter Street in San Francisco, 
while it was headquarters for both the Democratic State Central Committee 
and the California Democratic Council, the celebrated grassroots organization 
founded in 1954 on enthusiasm for presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson. 
Senator Clair Engle's office was there too, for a while, providing 
additional opportunity for feedback and encouragement between the groups. 

The transcript of the interview was lightly edited at the Regional 
Oral History Office and sent to Copertini for review. She apologized 
for unavoidable delays in sending back the manuscript for final processing. 
When it returned, she had retyped many pages so that her careful revisions 
would be readable. 

Gabrielle Morris 

22 April 1987 

Regional Oral History Office 

486 The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

[Interview 1: April 8, 1986] #// 

The Forties and Fifties: Local and National Politics 

Copertini: That was my first job, my first job anywhere [with William 

Malone, then chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee.] 
I was just out of high school, and it was also an ethnic hire, 
which is interesting, because Bill Malone asked the parish 
priest to send him a "nice little Irish girl" and I was a "nice 
little Irish girl." [laughs] 

At that time the first war year the primaries were still 
in late August August 25th in 1942. They changed them later 
so that the soldiers' ballots could get back in time for 
accountability. So, they were moved to June. I went to work 
kind of as a summer job and then stayed on forever. 

Morris: Forever, was it ? 

Copertini: That was Earl Warren and Governor Culbert Olson, it was Olson's 
try for a second term. It was his campaign for reelection, 
which he didn't make. 

Morris: Did Bill Malone think he was going to make it? 

////This symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has 
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 29. 



Oh, I doubt that, I think that Mr. Malone was forever the 
realist. And, you know, you do everything that there is to 
be done, but I don't think he would think so. 

Did you grow up in a political family? 
brothers ? 

Was your father, your 

Copertini: Not terribly active, but terribly conscious. We were a 

laboring family from out in the Mission, and I can remember 
photographs, pictures, hanging on the wall, with campaign 
buttons stuck in them. And I got my first library card the day 
that Roosevelt was elected. My father, who was Catholic, used 
to pray because he hadn't finished his education he used to 
pray, "keep Roosevelt in office until my girls get through 

Morris: Oh, that's wonderful. 

Copertini: It was that kind of belief in Roosevelt and the party. 

Morris: Yes. What did Mr. Malone have you doing? 

Copertini: There was a campaign headquarters, but I actually worked for him. 
I worked out of his law office as a receptionist. I handled his 
appointments, and then whatever came in of a political nature. 
For instance, in the only Roosevelt campaign that I was ever in, 
Cyril Magnin as treasurer was a name on an ad in all the papers 
asking for one and five dollar contributions. God, they came in 
in droves, and they came to us on a mailing address, requiring 
counting and thank you letters. It was pretty routine stuff. 

Morris: And your responsibility was also keeping track of contributions 
as they came in? 

Copertini: To that extent, on this special "to the small contributor" 

appeal. There were other finance committees, but this thing 
was a little bit different, in that it asked for small 
contributions from people who probably had never contributed 
to a campaign before. 

Morris: Yes. Did Mr. Malone he's sort of a mythical creature, having 
been involved in Democratic politics for so long did he have 
the kind of interest in building the party that Roger Kent, 
later on, did? 

Copertini: It was completely different. He certainly had no interest in 
keeping the party alive and well and in winning elections. At 
the time I came in, Malone was jocularly known as "The 
Pendergast west of the Rockies." His power was significant. 
He had been state central committee chair and county chair for 
a number of years by the time I arrived. But that summer, in 
the primary, he was deposed in his bid for reelection as state 
chair by George R. Reilly [member, State Board of Equalization, 
1939-1982], who was already on the Board of Equalization. So 
while Reilly became the party chair, Malone stayed on as 
county chair, which he did for a number of years. As an 
interesting by-product of that, in the following year of '43, 
he involved himself in the San Francisco mayoral elections, at 
which there was a truly behind-the-scenes effort at assisting 
Roger Lapham. George Reilly was- one of the contenders, and 
Chester McPhee was another, and I think there were five that 
were running well, Rossi was up for reelection. 

Morris: Why was it a behind-the-scenes effort? 

Copertini: Because, first of all, Lapham was a Republican, and secondly, 
the party did not get involved as such in mayoral elections 
because they are non-partisan. Angelo Rossi had been in for 
sixteen years, and I don't remember who his opposition was along 
the way. But, in between time, Malone, as chairman most of 
this relates to county chairman had built neighborhood 
organizations here. To back up, I remember him coming to the 
door when I was a little kid, and he was just a guy out doing 
precinct work; he had the same name as my doctor, and I was 
terrified, because I thought I was going to get a shot [laughing], 
It was just some guy who wanted to get a vote for somebody and 
doing it the hard way. 

Later, when others wanted to take over the local party, he 
would be critized for being a Montgomery Street chairman, but 
he started, as so many who criticized him started, doing his 
precinct work. By the time I came in he had risen in the ranks 
and worked mostly from his law offices. There was a headquarters 
that was open the year around, and it was professionally staffed, 
but not with volunteers to the extent that happened in the 
party a few years later. There was a resurgence when Roger Kent 
came in and visited the headquarters daily but at this time it 
was a more contained, more businessman-like effort. There 
weren't the hordes of volunteers that you saw come along later 
under Roger and the CDC [California Democratic Councils]. 



Morris : 



Morris : 

Morris : 


Right. Then, it sounds like before Roger, it was mostly 
San Francisco based. There wasn't much of a statewide 

It was there, but one of the complaints about Malone was that 
he didn't like to travel. There were things going on out there, 
and certainly there was a lot of exchange between us and 
Los Angeles, where Sheridan Downey had come from. He was then 
U.S. Senator. Ellis Patterson was lieutenant governor; he 
had come from down there. The structure of the party is such 
that there's a north and a south chairman. One year a 
northerner is elected as statewide chair and there's a southern 
chairman, and the next year the southerner is your statewide, 
and there's a northern vice. So, I'm sure that the southerners 
had the counterpart of what Malone had put together here, which 
was really kind of assembly district organizations. 

Most of his efforts were put on assembly districts? On 
legislative elections? 

That's in San Francisco. But he dealt on a much different 
level too. He had good rapport rfith Senator Sheridan Downey, 
and there was lots of interaction with Washington. There 
was Ed Flynn, who was the national chair there, followed by 
Bob Hannegan, and he was quite close to both of those, and others 
before them. You know, his Washington 

His Irish mafia? 

It was. 
as bad. 

They talk about the Kennedys [laughing], this was just 

Well, they're people from various areas and that's important 
to have somebody you can talk to, I guess. 

Well, yes. That's right, they were people in power. He also had 
great friendly and political relations with other nationalities. 
The Chows, Jack and Albert Chow, or the Chinese Six Companies 
here in San Francisco; they were very, very close. And Black 
friends, labor friends, and certainly Jewish friends. 

Then you continued to work for Bill Malone, until when? 
did you go over to the Democratic committee itself? 


I got married in '47, and didn't do anything until Truman was 
running in '48. I just didn't work at all. The Truman campaign 
was such a poor operation; money wasn't plentiful and they 

Copertini : 


Morris : 
Copertini ; 

Morris : 
Morris : 

Copertini : 

were desperate for help, so they called and asked if I would 
come back. Then it just flew from there; I never wanted to go 
home again. I had an eight months' hiatus when my child was 
born, but it's been pretty much all the time. 

When he was small and you asked, you know, how you could 
do so many things I actually was not an employee of the state 
central committee for their office, so much as I was hired 
by them for campaigns and projects. The office was ongoing, 
and from time to time I worked out of there, or was employed 
by them for fundraising, or something. But I moved around a 
lot while under their wing. 

Yes. You were on the staff. 

No; contractual from time to time. There were three people 
who were permanently on staff: a secretary, a director, and 
an assistant, who was a field representative. And then there 
were those of us who came and went. As I say, sometimes I 
was on state central committee payroll and worked out of the 
office, sometimes on CDC, sometimes on a campaign payroll. More 
often it would happen that either the director or the assistant 
would be sent someplace and then I would go with that person. 

Doing fieldwork? 

Not so much that as campaigns and fundraising. Largely 
campaigns. And then, when that was over I'd come home again to 
the state central committee office and wait to be deployed. 

You sort of set up a headquarters for the campaigns? 

That's right, yes. 

Tell me about the first one of those you remember, 
in Roger's era? 

This was 

Well, let's see. The first one I remember was under George 
Miller [Jr.]. The [Estes] Kefauver delegation had won, and 
there was a change of command. The Malone people were out but 
someone I had known Don Bradley was involved and important 
to the new effort. He had been a county chair during the 
Truman campaign, was in the winning campaign of Jack Shelley 
and worked for Jack in his office and I knew him from there. 

Copertini: Then George Miller, who became his good friend and was 
chair when the Kefauver delegation won, hired him as 
executive director. Earlier in 1952, I had been working 
in the campaign of a candidate, Clinton D. McKinnon, who, 
under crossfiling, lost in the primaries to Knowland. But 
the permanent state headquarters was only a block away and I 
spent a lot of time at the state committee when there was an 
attempt to put together an unpledged delegation to take up 
the slack when Truman pulled out of the race so I saw more of 
Don. The effort didn't work and, as we've said, the delegation 
pledged to Kefauver won and Bradley went to work for the 
chair. He hired me for interim things, fundraising, conventions, 
campaigns he and then Roger Kent. When Don opened a head 
quarters I would go with him. 

Morris: Great. This is traveling around the state? 

Copertini: A little, but not so much. Don, at times, took up residency 
in southern California, and would leave us behind here in 
San Francisco. A statewide campaign doesn't do well unless 
the main bases are here in San Francisco and in Los Angeles. 
You can't, for instance, have the northern headquarters in 
San Mateo or have it in Oakland. It just doesn't work. 

Morris: And if it's a statewide campaign, you need to have an office 
both in Los Angeles and in San Francisco? 

Copertini: Absolutely. 

Morris: Does that get to be kind of complicated sometimes, if the 
people in charge of those two offices aren't on the same 

Copertini: It never did, because although Bradley would be sent down to 
Los Angeles, obviously, anybody who ran the operation here 
would be somebody that would be compatible with him. 

Morris: Were there the same kinds of Don Bradley people in southern 
California, real political campaign experts? 

Copertini: Well, there was only one Bradley. There really was. But, 

obviously, there were competent people who worked down there, 
many of whom were his proteges. For instance Joe Cerrell, who, 
you know, is still in, and well respected, in the campaign 
business. He was a young Democrat when Bradley found him 
in a '57 campaign. Let's see, there's Lee, now Cerrell 's wife 

Morris: His wife would campaign? 

Copertini: Yes, right. She's worked for the party since 1958. 

Morris: Somehow I think of Mr. Cerrell running special campaigns, and 
that makes me think of Dick Tuck. When did he appear on the 

Copertini: [laughs] Don Bradley had lived in Santa Barbara. He knew 
Tuck from his Santa Barbara days. When did he appear? He 
was heartily entrenched in '56, so it was, maybe, '54 or '55 
when Don went to Santa Barbara on the Senate campaign. 

In '56 we went to Chicago for Stevenson. Dick was 
along and that was the caper where Dick did the fake 
convention badges that Life magazine eventually wrote about 
because it was more of an honor to have one of those two 
dozen fake badges we put together, than to have the real ones, 

Morris: Oh, my goodness. 

Copertini: He's a funny man and clever. The badges were so unsophisticated.' 
All we did was to go out and get some paper and a printer 
to do some italic lettering on it. I got a fine-point 
pen and a bottle of red ink and drew a red border. I was in 
charge of drawing the union labels, and they got bigger and 
bigger, until they looked like beetles [laughs]. And we took 
them out and plasticized them, because we didn't have enough 
credentials and they passed, clumsy as they were. 

Morris: This was for Stevenson? 
Copertini: That was for Stevenson, yes. 

Morris: This was because Stevenson was having trouble getting his 
delegates on the convention floor? 

Copertini: Only because of the size of the California delegation when 

you attempted to accommodate uncredentialed staff and visitors. 
There are always more people than you have tickets. So we made 
these phony badges. The news crews picked it up and wrote 
about it. As I say, it finally ended up in Life magazine. 
Humor was good and even the convention chair appeared on the 
podium wearing one of these collector's items. That was 
Tuck's first recognized effort! 


Morris: Had Dick been a student at Santa Barbara? 

Copertini: I don't know, but he had been a Coro intern although he was a 
few years away from that. 

Morris: Right. That's interesting. Was the Coro Foundation a 

good place to look for bright new talent?* Or was it just 
by accident? 

Copertini: Some wonderful people have come from Coro notably Libby 

Smith (Gatov) the U.S. Treasurer under Kennedy, and Dianne 
Feinstein, present mayor of San Francisco, just for starters. 

My initial feeling about it when I'd had interns before 
was that they always came in to find out what you were doing 
wrong rather than to learn. In fairness, they didn't have 
a great deal of time with us in campaigns, so they didn't handle 
anything with a lot of teeth in it. 

There was a major change in 1954, though, when we got 
two people who really became family. One was Tom Bendorf and 
the other, Mary Farrell. Bendorf was given tasks with great 
responsibility and stayed on to volunteer even after his 
stint with us, through Coro, was finished. He went on to 
Washington where he worked for Senator Clair Engle and has 
held other positions of note in and around government. 

Mary Farrell suffered from what was the woman's dilemma 
of those years. While very much interested and wanting to be 
there she complained she was never given anything to do but 
typing. It was one of the earliest complaints I'd heard on 
that score and quite justified. Most women just assumed that 
the men were going to get the more interesting assignments, such 
as field work, and the higher pay and that they would do office 
chores . 

Morris: And this was in the '50s? 

Copertini: This was in 1954. That year they came on as interns in the 
campaign of a man named Richard Graves, who was running 
for governor. 

*San Francisco public affairs internship program. 

Morris: Of course.* 

Copertini: I just found some of his campaign matchbooks. They said, 
"We dig Graves. He's the most." Can you believe it? 

Morris: Was that the kind of a campaign that, within the central 

committee, there was the thought that he really had a chance of 
winning, or was it more of a place holding kind of a thing? 
I've heard the suggestion it wasn't a good year for Democrats, 
so Pat Brown didn't want to run. 

Copertini: There was hardly anybody who [laughs] wanted to run, and Graves, 
until just a few months before he was asked to do it, was a 
Republican. But you hype yourself up, and you get so immersed 
in it that you don't really ever think you're going to lose. 
You know, you get three good letters in a row, and you think, 
hey, we've got it made. 

He was running against Goodwin Knight, and there were some 
unfavorable things in Knight's record that were thought would 
be to his detriment and give Graves his chance. You have to 
remember I was enthusiatic and starry-eyed. These realists 
they didn't confide in me if they thought that he was going 
to lose. 

Building a Volunteer Base 

Morris: Could we talk a little bit about using volunteers? When did 
you begin to be aware that there were more people around to 
do fundraising, and letter stuffing, and 

Copertini: Well, again, under the Malone regime, the attitude was more 
and I don't mean to denigrate it, it's just the way that 
things were then you know, keep this place neat, don't let 
all these people in. You sent letters out to a letter shop and 

*See Richard Graves, Theoretician, Advocate, and Candidate in 
California State Government, Regional Oral History Office, 
University of California, Berkeley, 1973. 


Copertini: got them back all tidy and ready to go. The volunteer movement 
started rolling under Miller, I guess, and it came full bloom 
with what we learned when CDC was organized and when Roger 
[Kent] became state party chairman. Don was executive 
secretary of the party then, and the thing that he drummed 
into us when we were there, over, and over, and over again, 
was inclusion; inclusion. And God forbid if you turned 
somebody away who wanted to help, or if you didn't have 
something for them to do. 

We used to have a standing joke about the box of three- 
by-five file cards. If somebody came in and said, "I want to 
help," well you went out and took the three-by-five cards 
in the back room and brought them out and said, "Please 
alphabetize these," if you didn't have anything else for them 
to do. It's a joke you can't always tell, because people don't 
like to think that, maybe, their time hasn't been well used. 
But on the other hand, if somebody comes in, and there really 
isn't anything at that moment, you don't want them to go, 
you want to say, "Sit down. Here, this needs doing right 
away, I'm glad you arrived. You're needed." So that's what 
we'd do in an emergency, but we didn't do it much, because 
usually there was plenty to do. 

Morris: Once you get into a campaign. And people don't turn up in 
between campaigns, is that right? 

Copertini: Well, there was hardly ever an in between, because with the 

development of the CDC, when one thing was over, something else 
was starting. For instance, while people from the state 
central committee were away at campaign headquarters, there 
was also an effort called "Dollars for Democrats," that came 
out in '60, that was run out of the permanent state and CDC 
headquarters. That required bodies. There were the CDC 
conventions that came up annually: Democratic state central 
committee conventions and meetings and fundraising, so there 
was always enough to do. We started I think around '55, '56, 
to put out a monthly newsletter, and that newsletter was 
like 1,500. And we had, I mean, zero equipment. We had a 
mimeograph machine, and we had dupli-stickers that we did by 
hand and postage that we applied by hand, and we licked and 
stuffed and sealed and sorted. 

And these went out monthly. You no sooner finished one 
than you were in the throes of doing it again. There were 
two staffers: the regular staff secretary for the state 
central committee, and the CDC secretary. So help was always 
needed and with this inclusion policy 


Morris: And this was when they were sharing office space, 212 Sutter 

Copertini: Yes. 

Morris: How did that work out? 

Copertini: There was an earlier address when we were newly formed, and it 
was so successful we both got too big for it. It was six- 
something Market. It worked out just fine. It worked out just 
fine. It was very necessary that we did share office space, 
because I think if the CDC had gone off on its own, the story 
would have been quite different. Without any contact, or with 
just casual contact with the state central committee, there 
could have been cross purposes or even animosities. You know, 
struggle over turf and all. In this way each was consulted and 
knew exactly what the other was doing, each was involved with 
what the other was doing. When it came convention time, or 
delegate selection time, each worked cooperatively for the very 
best of the party. And Roger was as warm and friendly and 
interested in the CDC as he was in the state central committee. 

Morris: It sounds like he may have encouraged the founding of CDC. 

Copertini: Well, he was one. It happened under George Miller, and Alan 
Cranston was monumentally important to it. 

Morris: Yes, he's often spoken of as the founder in order to further 
his own political career. 

Copertini: Whatever the reason, it was a very good move for the party. 
Morris: Yes. 

Copertini: I remember the times we still had cross-filing and, you know, 

we were losing elections right and left. So this helped in that 
you could identify candidates and say, hey, this is the endorsed 
Democrat, stay with it. See, you couldn't put the party 
designation on in the primaries. So that gave a' way, an 
endorsement of the California Democratic Council, to validate 
the candidacy as a Democrat. 

And then, after Stevenson lost in '52, there was such a 
continuation of the outpouring of interest from everyone, 
particularly young people who had found out a little bit about 
campaigning, cared about who was going to run the country, and 


Copertini: never went home again. The older, pre-war generation had 

been more quiet during the Eisenhower years. But now, these 
young people just God, they were like bees coming out of a 
hive, they were wonderful. 

You know, Jack Kennedy is credited with inspiring this 
activity of volunteers and youth in politics, but it wasn't 
really he. It started with Stevenson. It was ready for 
Kennedy to make use of when his time came, but if we were 
just to get started then, we might not have been ready. Without 
this earlier awakening of interest we might not have been able 
to make the effort that we did to elect a president in 1960. 

Morris: I'm trying to get a picture of what it was like. The people 

turned out for Stevenson meetings, or they came to work on his 
campaign in numbers that you hadn't had before? 

Copertini: Those things are true. They not only came to but helped on the 
rallies that we gave, the public things, the street events. 
Even raised money to help candidates. But more than that, 
they joined the clubs, so that they could have some continuing 
voice in politics, necessary because the state central committee 
you're aware that the appointment process was not structured 
so that everybody might get in. 

Morris: You have to be appointed. 

Copertini: You have to be appointed by a legislator, yes. But in the clubs, 
anybody could get in, and they did. The clubs were very, very 

Morris: You said the newsletter was a 1,500 mailing. 

Copertini: That was the state central committee newsletter. The CDC 

probably had much the same thing. There was always some kind 
of a mailing, something going on. If it was a quiet time, then 
you quick put together a fundraiser, because, well, you always 
needed money too. 

Morris: And the fundraisers that you worked on, were these the ones to 
get a lot of people giving at a lower price, or were these the 
$500 dinner kinds of things? 

Copertini: Well, it could be both. In those days, it wasn't $500; I don't 
think we ever got above $100, and that was very daring. There 
were both, and I worked on both and they were traditional and 


Copertini: in San Francisco always. Others were considered like more 
rallies and you tried to have events that people of every 
financial level could participate in. 

We did try to do a traditional Jefferson- Jackson dinner in 
the fairgrounds in San Mateo, and it just didn't work. You'd 
be surprised how attached people are to the old formulas. You 
can have a variety of fundraisers to this day, but nothing 
succeeds like the events in one of five city hotels where 
everybody gets dressed up and is seen, and seeing. Really. 

Morris: That's interesting. Even though it's the same people ? 

Copertini: Even though it's the same people. They don't recognize it as 

official unless it goes this route. And now, of course, they've 
gotten smaller and more expensive and all, but the mayor still 
does it, and we're having one in June. When it comes to the 
raising masses of money, (and it's also a show of strength) the 
reception or dinner formula is tried and true. But other 
things that have been tried theatre parties, auctions, any 
number of things it doesn't work. 

Morris: Isn't that interesting. Even though there have come to be some 
very talented women who specialize just in doing fundraisers. 

Copertini: And mostly what they do is this traditional format. In the city 
here, the oldest is Madlyn Day, who taught me everything I know 
about it. She worked for Senator Downey and had an office 
across the street from Malone, and, you know, I had contact with 
her. Later on she, too, worked for the party, then specialized 
in fundraising and is still doing it. She's been doing it since 
1940, or earlier. 

Morris: And isn't Anne Eliaser ? 

Copertini: Anne Eliaser, who was National Commit teewoman. I don't think 

she takes politics so much any more. But her firm does its share 
with fundraising dinners, and the formula is true; it just abides, 

Women and Politics in the Fifties 

Morris: How about women? You said when you started, it didn't even 
occur to you to do anything but make the coffee and type. 


Copertini: Well, as a paid employee. Certainly there were women's 

committees and women who shared leadership for the party. 
Elected party officials Elinor Heller (national committeewoman) 
and Julia Porter, women's chair of the Democratic state central 
committee, are two who were active when I came in, and later, of 
course, Libby Smith. A candidate was Helen Gahagan Douglas 
who ran for Senate in 1950. 

Women were always recognized and the election laws were 
set up so that the legislator who had appointments to the 
state central committee had to make them 50-50, resulting in 
lots of men walking around with their wives' proxies! 

Morris: Did you work on the Helen Gahagan Douglas campaign? 

Copertini: Not directly. I was in the state central committee head 
quarters at that time. Don was, but I wasn't. That was 
the year I'd had a baby, so I didn't work in a primary but 
came back in the fall. 

Morris: That was your year off. 

Copertini: Yes, eight months. I came back, I think, in August. 

Morris: Oh, that's wonderful. Did you bring the baby with you? 

Copertini: At times [laughs], at times. 

Morris: That's marvelous. Okay, then, my question about Helen 

Gahagan Douglas' reception as a woman and how the central 
committee felt about the red smear kinds of things. You 
wouldn't have heard about ? 

Copertini: Well, we were outraged about the red smear, and they liked 
her. They certainly liked her as a person but there were 
many, even other women, who were critical of her running, 
feeling that a woman candidate was not electable. Persons 
who would never want a woman any woman. And the traditional 
party in San Francisco, under Bill Malone's leadership, 
had been attracted to Manchester Boddy rather than Douglas. 
However, Douglas was nominated and a very good effort was 
made to elect her. However, it was with newer, emerging 
people younger, more liberal. Again, Bradley ran that 
campaign. It was right after he'd worked for Jack Shelley's 
election to Congress. 


Morris: Right. Okay, going back in time; the 212 Gang. Were you 
pretty much the same people over the years, or were new 
people added? 

Copertini: Yes, pretty much the same nucleus. There was Roger for the 

state central committee, there was Don, there was a wonderful 
man named Van Dempsey, a field organizer. There was Martin 
Huff, who was treasurer of everything and crossed lines to 
be enormously involved with both DSCC and CDC. There were 
two women who served, successively, as secretary for the 
state committee during these years, and a CDC secretary. 
Then, of course, those of us who were hired for campaigns, 
fundraisers and other special events. ## 

Morris: Did they by and large have the' same ideas in the group, or 
was it just that you were all in touch with each other, 
saying, what can we do next, or where is the need that 
we can do something about? 

Copertini: We never had to stop and think "what will we do next." 

There was always something. A campaign ran into a fundraiser, 
which ran into a convention or conference leading to a 
campaign, and so on. We were all pretty compatible in our 
thinking and in our preferences of candidates and issues. 
We were, or we wouldn't have been there. If you didn't 
agree philosophically with what was being done, you couldn't 
stand being there. Working was enormous fun, but it also 
took a great deal of your time, your energy, and your emotion. 

Morris: Where had he and Don gotten interested in this idea of 
inclusion, including more and more people in the ? 

Copertini: I think Roger, as a candidate he ran for Congress a couple 
of times sometimes felt shut out by the old order. Don 
had learned his politics as a very young man on the waterfront 
where numbers as a show of strength was important. If there 
was any lesson learned there it was that everyone was needed; 
you don't lose anybody if you can help it. And he saw it 
worked. Then during the time that he was formulating 
opinions about the work of the state central committee 
and accepting a leadership role himself, I think he was 
told by a lot of people that the party was a "closed 
corporation" you weren't allowed to be involved. I think 
he wanted to make sure that never happened. He recognized 
the need and value of manpower but more than that the RIGHT 
of people to have a voice in the affairs of their party. 


The Triumphant Era of Pat Brown 

Morris: Everything seems to have come together about '58 when Pat 
Brown was elected and 

Copertini: Oh, yes. It was just a triumphant year. 

Morris: And then, did Pat take an active part in what was going 
on at the central committee? 

Copertini: Not in the day-to-day workings; elected officials don't. 
But certainly in the negotiations and -decisions. He was 
the highest elected Democratic official as attorney 
general and ran and became governor. That year there had 
been three or four-good sized campaigns; three of them 
housed under one roof, a building up the street from 212. 
Brown was down on Market in a building they called "The 
Gore" and together with him were Engle for Senator, Mosk 
for Attorney General and Bert Betts for Treasurer. 

These took a hefty amount of staff and you draw from 
every place where you find interest. Help came from the 
CDC; people who left their jobs, took leaves of absence 
to go to work on these campaigns. 

Morris: Really I 
Copertini: Yes, absolutely. 

Morris: How can you talk somebody into leaving their job for nine 
months to a year? 

Copertini: You didn't have to. They were keen to do it. Those times 
were so exciting, so hopeful. A case in point is a man 
named Tom Saunders who, over in Kensington, was an early 
CDC club president. Professionally he was an insurance 
safety consultant with a lot of interest in politics. He 
was able to take time out to go to work on the Brown 
campaign and then go back to his insurance company. I don't 
know why they allowed this, but I guess he was a very 
valuable employee. He really wanted that campaign job. 

Morris: And he did that several times, over the years? 


Copertini: In a way. After Brown won, Saunders accepted a job with the 
state.* Then Brown, the second time around, asked him to 
run his campaign in the north, an adjunct to Don who had 
the statewide role but functioned out of the south. So Tom 
took a leave, I believe, or quit outright to work on the 

Ultimately he went back, after the election, into a much 
higher position. 

Morris: Into his insurance company? 

Copertini: No, no. In state government. Brown had given him an 

appointment after his first campaign. When he left to do 
the second one he returned to the state in an elevated 

Morris: Then Brown lost him as a campaign worker. 

Copertini: Well, yes. But that doesn't mean he didn't have free time 
to participate in other ways. In '66 he was still with 
the state but he would take vacation and other accrued time 
for special field trips or projects or whatever. And he was 
around the headquarters a great deal evenings and weekends. 

You stacked up all your vacation and comp time and used 
it for the campaign. I want to tell you, if you offered 
such people a trip to Tahiti anybody who was in this 
generation of the 212 Gang they would much, much rather 
have spent the time on the campaign. Absolutely. I used 
to get up in a morning and think how lucky I was. I'd say, 
"You know, I'd go if I never earned a cent." And sometimes 
in the early days that was the case. I was paid in postage 
stamps or whatever was left at the end of the campaign, 
if it wasn't a good one, meaning prosperous. The Clinton 
McKinnon campaign is a prime example. 

*As a member of the state Industrial Accident Commission 
panel in San Francisco in 1963. 


The Turbulent Sixties 

Morris: Were things beginning to change, about '64, '65? 

Copertini: Yes, yes. The attack on Kennedy hit everybody really hard. 
In early '63 we were going to a CDC convention and we all 
said, "What will we DO next year? Kennedy's going to be 
reelected and so is Engle." And six months later Engle 
was suffering from a brain tumor and Kennedy was dead! 
So that put us into '64. 

At the CDC convention that year the crowd voted 
handsomely for Cranston, but there were those who felt 
that there wasn't any real opposition and they would have 
liked to see some other choice. Then Pierre Salinger found 
that he could run for Congress, that he didn't need to reside 
in the district, so he ran. 

And Don and I went with Pierre which, probably, was 
not the best thing we could have done, to say the least. We 
had both been involved in putting together the delegation 
for the National Democratic convention in Atlantic City. So, 
of course, taking on Salinger meant we moved from the official 
party headquarters and others took on that task. After 
Pierre won the primary, Roger Kent, in a great demonstration 
of genuine desire to see "the family" be put back together 
because there were residual feelings that win or lose it was 
wrong to have supported Salinger involved Don and me in the 
business of bringing California's delegation to the convention. 
We were working with a lot of the other people who had 
stayed with the state committee and had been with Cranston, 
too, so we had to work hard to make an amalgam there. 

Further, Don was taken off the Salinger campaign and 
put into running Lyndon Johnson's campaign out of the south, 
which might have contributed to the defeat of Salinger 
because Don was just not able to participate as much as 
he was needed. 

Again, Tom Saunders got a leave somehow I don't know, 
but all very legal and ran the Johnson campaign up here. 

Morris: By then there's the beginning of the legislative campaign 
committees, too. 


Copertini: Yes. I think '65 was the year that Si Casady ran as 

president of the California Democratic Council and left a 
lot of people disenchanted with the result. 

Morris: Well, was it Casady himself or was it the anti-Vietnam 
concern that caused the trouble? 

Copertini: Casady was not too familiar a figure in the north, at 

least, and the anti-Vietnam views were certainly part of it. 
I wasn't that close to it and I really can't answer, but, 
again, it disenchanted a lot of CDC regulars. 

Then something else was happening. A lot of the people 
who were involved and who were even part of the Roger Kent 
years were getting tired at that time. Don't forget that 
Roger was chair for over ten years now, and in addition to 
the toll that takes he felt our losses keenly. Kennedy 
had died; Engle, a good friend, had died; then later that 
year we lost Adlai Stevenson, too. It seemed to take some of 
the heart out of Roger. 

Morris: That must really have been a shock to people from the group. 

Copertini: Yes. But Roger stayed on for a while. He gave some thought 
to retiring and tried to persuade Bill Orrick to run because 
he thought he'd be someone who would be able to mend the 
wounds between CDC's Cranston and the Salinger forces. But 
Orrick didn't want to run. 

Morris: Oh, yes. He'd been doing fundraising for the party. 

Copertini: Yes, right. And more than that. He'd been campaign chair 
for several campaigns and held other significant roles. 

Morris: Well, it's sort of odd. Roger went over to become a chairman 
in Pat Brown's reelection campaign in '66, but somehow 
that doesn't ring quite right. It sounds like there were 
some people who were also trying to ease Roger out gracefully- 

Copertini: Oh, no, no. I don't think so. Aside from having had the 
party responsibility for so long, he had monumental health 
problems. He had emphysema and a very bad and painful hip 
problem. And he was tired and missed those we had lost 
through death. 


Morris: He had been at it for ten years. 

Copertini: Eleven. He used to leave his law practice and come over 
to headquarters almost every day. And he traveled a lot, 
and you know, was well met. He was a vital part of any 
group he saw, and it wasn't bed at eight o'clock: it was 
two, or three in the morning or whatever time he went if 
he went. And he had traveled to Washington a lot. 

I think he was ready to quit. But he stayed on to 
accomplish all he could accomplish. So he retired. But 
then, you know, when your old friend Pat gets you on the 
phone and says, "Hey, I need you " Being chair of the 
campaign gave him just the right amount of involvement with 
out having responsibility for the entire party. 

Morris: Right. Well, you need people you can call on and say "why 

did we do what we did?" Who were the people of the 212 Gang 
or newcomers who had that same kind of dedication to 
politics and to the good of the Democratic party? 

Copertini: There were many out of the clubs, legislators, fundraisers 

and people who made themselves close-in friends of the office, 
And our "out of the office" authority Van Dempsey. He was 
the field representative, the second spot in the office, 
and he was much beloved. 



He had a completely different style from Don, who dealt 
mainly with the legislators and people in authority. Van 
went from county to county visiting people in small 
communities in small numbers over and over and over again. 
He was much beloved and thoroughly dedicated and stayed on 
until it was necessary for chairman [Robert] Coate to close 
the headquarters in 1967 for lack of funds. 

That's tough to recover from, 
offices for ten years. 

If you've had year-round 


Yes, well, even before that even before Roger there were 
year-round headquarters. One in the Sharon Building in the 
very early Roosevelt days, graduating to the Balboa Building 
under Bill Malone. All in all, to my knowledge there's been 
a headquarters for 10 years before 212. Maybe longer. 

It had been headquarters, in his office? 


Copertini: No, no. It was in another place. It was at 2nd and Market 
while Malone was nearby on Montgomery Street. It was in the 
Balboa Building, had glass all round so that everyone was 
visible and was called "the fishbowl." 

Morris: Who was it that got the office open again? 

Copertini: In '68 Roger Boas became chair and he opened headquarters. 

Morris: Now, had Boas been one of the proteges of Roger and Don? 

Copertini: In 1958, in the Engle campaign, there were three notable 

volunteers. One of them became a San Francisco supervisor, 
Ron Pelosi. Another was Roger Boas who had a deep interest 
in seeing that California had a Democratic Senator, and the 
third was Dianne Feinstein! 

Morris: Yes, you really got them started. 

Copertini: I'd like to take the credit, but they were very much self- 
starters. They really weren't very good volunteers 
[laughing] they didn't stay around too much. But Roger 
Boas always had this keen interest and he later ran for office 
himself. You know, he was a supervisor and then ran for 
Congress. So he certainly had a strong feeling for the party 
and brought much to it by way of knowledge, experience, and 
business sense. He was a friend of Roger's and very friendly 
with Don. So he became chair and opened headquarters in the 
Orpheum Building. 

Morris: That's about the era, too, when you get the big national party 
McGovern reforms. All the business about opening up delegate 
selection and participation. 

Copertini: You kind of lose me there because I did not work for [George] 
McGovern. My inclinations were to [Edmund S.] Muskie and I 
went to work in '71 as the Northern California campaign 
coordinator and then stayed with the campaign until it folded 
in '72. Then, after it folded, I didn't want to work for 
McGovern and signed on with a local candidateRon Pelosi, who 
was running against State Senator Milton Marks. I liked Ron, 
but an equally compelling reason for doing this is that Marks, 
a Republican, held a seat that by every right should have been 


Morris: What was the central committee's involvement in, or response 
to, the business about changing the delegate selection to the 

Copertini: For details, you'll have to go elsewhere. I wasn't a part of 
it. But I can't think that it made that much of a difference 
in California. We had always been concerned about what we 
called a "balanced" delegation. 

Morris: Okay, and how has that affected later campaigns? 

Copertini: I really don't know except to conclude that there were now 

official and maybe slightly more stringent rules for what we 
had always sought to achieve in the way of fair representation 
on the delegations. 

In 1967 the same Tom Saunders I've told you about and I 
went to work together in the Joe Alioto mayoral campaign 
a 54-day wonder. After Brown was defeated I'd "retired" and 
was volunteering in Jack Shelley's reelection campaign for 
mayor. He pulled out and I went to work for Alioto. Tom was 
campaign manager. After that, we decided to open our own office. 

Morris: Did you?! 

Copertini: Yes. We did that for about four years. One of our first 

accounts, that was in '68, was the Lyndon Johnson delegation. 
Okay, Lyndon Johnson announced in March that there wasn't going 
to BE any more Lyndon Johnson. So we hurriedly put together 
an uncommitted delegation pledged to Thomas Lynch , who was the 
ranking California Democrat as attorney general. That was the 
fateful Chicago year and obviously our delegation certainly did 
not win. 

As I mentioned, the procedure had been, at the time we put 
together a delegation, always to keep an eye on balancing. 
That was the word we used all the time, balance. So many 
legislators, so many contributors, so much labor, so many CDC 
representatives, so many women, and so many of each of the 
minorities. People really sweat putting those delegations 
together to try to make all facets of the party feel they had 
a stake in it with a truly representative slate. 

Morris: How did you start? Did you use your three-by-five cards from 
the previous years? 


Copertini: Even better. After the CDC clubs started to flourish there 
were caucuses called in each of the congressional districts. 
Out of that procedure came recommendations for delegates and 
alternates. Then the state central committee would get those 
recommendations back and, with a selection committee (also 
representative), evaluate who had done what that merited him/her 
a spot, look at how many at-large delegate spaces you have for 
emergencies, and then go to work sifting and refining and 
putting together the delegation. 

Morris: How much weight do you have to give to, say, the governor or 
the senator, if they're a Democrat who says, "I want this guy 
on, or I want that guy ?" 

Copertini: Oh, you listen. [laughs] Usually it's not unreasonable, 

Morris: Is there fierce competition for those delegate slots? 
Copertini: When I was involved, yes. 

Morris: And what happens if presumably there's another group 
somewhere working on another delegation for another 
candidate? Do you have any contact with them, or any 
forced trading? 

Copertini: Not trading. But you would try to persuade those you felt 
should be part of what you were doing and who would be an 
asset to the delegation to see it your way. 

In any event, the balance was operative. And it took 
many, many hours of very precise work to get it to be 

Morris: And how many of those people usually ended up being able to go 
to the convention? 

Copertini: Virtually all who were chosen, plus families and children and 

whatever. So you were dealing with a horde of people: you were 
dealing with six, seven hundred people when you took a California 
delegation to a convention. It's true that sometimes the 
money was a problem because, no matter where you go, it's 
expensive. There were the normal transportation, hotel, living, 
.and entertainment expenses plus a $100 delegate fee for 
financing the operation you know, organizational staff, 
convention headquarters room, printed materials. But that was 
little enough and people who applied managed to make it. 

Copertini: I think in later years, just about as I was doing other things, 
there were fundraisers to make it possible for people who 
didn't have the money to go. This was desirable because a 
lot of younger people were now on delegations and simply didn't 
have the means . 

Morris: Special events to raise money for delegate expenses. 

I know you have limited time, could we spend a couple of 
minutes on voter registration, if that was something that 
you spent a lot of time on, or was important to Roger and Don. 

Copertini: It was very important; it was essential. Somebody in the 

state central committee would be assigned to organize it and 
there would be chairs in each county. Much aid was provided 
and close track kept. The voter registration expert in San 
Francisco was and is, although he is now "retired" Agar 
Jaicks who was for many years chair of the county central 
committee and how he did it so well for so long is his story 
to tell. 

Morris: I'll remember that. 

Copertini: The county central committee were the people who got the 
troops for that, largely from CDC club members. And we 
managed to find a little money here and there to pay deputy 
registrars 15c a name. Most of them put it back into their 
club or a favored campaign. Maybe registrars are still getting 
something, I don't know. 

Morris: It's up to fifty cents a name. You hear that in some cases 
candidates who are sending out registration people pay a 
dollar or more. 

Copertini: Really, we were marvellously organized. Obviously you can't 
turn anybody away who wants to register, but you sure knew 
where to go where the people you register will be the 
people who are likely to vote as you'd wish. There's a whole 
science to it. As I say, it was happening around me, but 
I never participated directly. It obviously couldn't be 
operated from a campaign headquarters. 

Morris: That wasn't one of your specialties. 
Copertini: No. 


Conclusion: Constant Ideas and Major Changes 

Morris: I have a wrap-up question. It has two parts. One is, 
whether the ideas from Roger and Don's heyday are still 
important, and what kinds of things have been the major 
changes in the central committee's activities? 

Copertini: I can answer only part of that. I'm so removed from the 
operation of either of the official committees now. 

As regard what was left from Roger and Don: I think what 
they began in the fifties stood the party in good stead and 
does still today. They involved PEOPLE rather than relying 
on just media. Because you erred on the side of generosity, 
of sane liberalism, and the inclusion of as many people and 
tolerance of as many ideas as you possibly could. The party 
belonged to everybody and if a point of view other that 
that of the leadership prevailed, so be it. You worked darn 
hard to make sure it didn't, but you went with it. It's 
everybody's party. That was the abiding thing and it 
characterized the whole era. 

Morris: Do you get the feeling that that is less so now than it was 
twenty years ago? 

Copertini: No, but I think a couple of things have changed. I don't 
feel that there is the strong leadership that we had under 
Roger. I don't think there is the fundraising capability 
that there was on an ongoing basis. The reason we were 
able to do the things that were done was because there was an 
ongoing war chest. Money was raised constantly. Also people 
were able to contribute more freely and more generously. The 
contribution laws have changed, with limitations and 
restrictions on what you could do. People back then contributed 
in different ways I don't know if I should be saying it, but 

Morris: You can look at the transcript, if you want to change your mind. 

Copertini: I remember being payrolled at times by different companies. 
Somebody would have a business and say, "Well, I'll put one 
of your staff on my payroll as my contribution." So you were 
able to finance staff, campaign staff, by means which you 
couldn't possibly use any more. 

Morris: Because it's a bigger operation now? 


Copertini: No, because of the campaign regulations and reporting 

laws and because it's illegal to take as a tax deduction 
someone who hasn't actually worked for you. We were deprived 
of another very lucrative source of income when it was ruled 
that ads placed by businesses in campaign material or 
fundraising dinner programs were not legally deductible. 

Morris: I understand there are still ways around the payrolling 

restriction even within the government. You carry somebody 
on the Department of What-Not, but they're really assigned 
to work for the governor. 

Copertini: Do you mean in a governor's campaign? That was never all 
right. As I said before, people who did this took leaves; 
went off the payroll. 

Morris: It's considered good form for a corporation to delegate 

somebody for six months to go to work for the United Crusade. 
I tend to think that political party activity is a special 
kind of volunteer effort. 

Copertini: Well, it is, but one is altruistic and the other completely 
in self-interest, one way or the other. And, you know, it's 
the thought that the biggest corporations, with the most 
employees to send out there as contributions as well as actual 
money, they're going to be the people who call the elections. 

Morris: But nowadays you have a world in which individuals in 

significant corporate positions give money to both candidates 
in a race. If your company is large enough, I would think 
you could send two people let one go work for the Democrats 
and one go work for the Republicans. 

Copertini: Well, it's a thought. But when you win, you would still 

be reminded of where your help came from even though it was 
not special, not based on principle. There has always been 
some sort of bet-hedging. But payrolling has stopped; 
although if I 'm ever thrown back in the labor market , I think 
it would be delightful to contemplate that it could still 
happen. [laughs] But the reporting laws, the maximum 
contribution laws and Internal Revenue have put a stop to it. 

Morris: Am I right that the CDC is no longer a major source of 
volunteers in local political action? 


Copertini: It doesn't touch me, and maybe that is a partial answer to 
your question. Nobody comes to me and asks if I will go to 
this place or that to volunteer. Nobody solicits me to join 
a club. There still are clubs that exist but I don't think 
the recruitment is anything like what it used to be. 

Morris: That's interesting, that something that was so important 
Copertini: Yes. It was beautiful, it was just beautiful. 

Morris: Everybody I've talked to who was involved in the CDC talks 
about it as the Golden Age of political participation. 

Copertini: Yes. 

Morris: The other question is: Do you take any time to keep an eye 
on what the Republicans are doing? Is there any trading of 
information? Or is that not considered appropriate? 

Copertini: It's not practical and could well be detrimental to your own 
cause. The danger of saying more than you intend is always 
there. There may be a couple of people who are friends who 
sit down and have a drink and talk politics, or even meet to 
iron out a point to their mutual advantage, but on the whole 
it's not appropriate. 

Morris: Anything else that you would like to add about party operations 
and what works well? 

Copertini: Well, I think the Democrats throughout the country would have 
been in real trouble had not Roger Kent taken the chairmanship 
when he did. California is important to national elections. 
After Truman declined to run and Stevenson lost, the party was 
in bad shape. It was deficit-ridden, people had become 
disenchanted or tired. There was no more patronage, the way 
it had been in Malone's day, largely under Roosevelt and then 
Truman, for post office jobs and the like. The Kefauver 
delegation won and was considered by the old guard to be much 
too liberal. The [Eugene] McCarthy days were troublesome and 
people looked askance at Democrats. But Roger Kent, with that 
significant and eminently respectable family name, his record 
of achievement in the law, in the Navy and in Washington was 
really responsible for putting it back together. 

He had respectability in communities where none of us ever 
set foot. People from old established families who had 
respected names and means to raise and give funds. The people 
who came into the party because Roger was there would often 


Copertini: say they were the first Democrat ever in their families, and 
they became important to the look and function of the party. 
I think Roger's election was very, very important. 

Morris: Yes. He was somebody that everybody could look up to? 

Copertini: Exactly. He gave the party again, that word respectability 
and he gave it entree. 

Transcriber: Johanna Wolgast 
Final Typist: Anne Schofield 


TAPE GUIDE Cyr Copertini 

Date of Interview: April 8, 1986 

tape 1, side A 1 

tape 1, side B 15 

INDEX Cyr Copertini 


Alioto, Joe, 22 
appointments, by governor, 17 
assembly districts, 4 

Bendorf, Tom, 8 

Betts, Bert, 16 

Boas, Roger, 21 

Boddy,, Manchester, 14 

Bradley, Don, 5-7, 10, 14, 15, 17, 

19-21, 25 
Brown, Edmund G. , Sr. , 9, 16-17, 20 

California Democratic Council, 3, 
5, 10-12, 15, 16, 18, 19, 22, 
23, 24, 26-27 

campaign finances, 2, 5, 10, 12-13, 
15, 17, 19, 20, 23-27 

campaign management, 1-28, passim. 

Casady, Simon, 19 

Cerrell, Joe, 6 

Cerrell, Lee, 6-7 

Chow, Albert, 4 

Chow, Jack, 4 

Coate, Robert, 20 

congressional districts, 23 

Core Foundation, 8 

Cranston, Alan, 11, 18 

crossfiling, 11 

Day, Madlyn, 13 

Democratic party, Democrats, 3, 9, 

11, 14, 20-22, 27-28 
Democratic National Committee, 4, 

Democratic National Conventions, 

delegates, 17, 18, 22-24 
Democratic State Central Committee, 

1, 3-6, 10-12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 

20, 22, 24-25 
Dempsey, Van, 15, 20 
Dollars for Democrats, 10 

Douglas, Helen Gahagan, 14 
Downey, Sheridan, 4 

elections, 1942, 1 

elections, 1944, 2 

elections, 1948, 4-5 

elections, 1950, 14 

elections, 1952, 5-6, 11 

elections, 1954, 8-9 

elections, 1958, 16, 21 

elections, 1960, 12 

elections, 1962, 17 

elections, 1964, 18 

elections, 1966, 17, 19-20 

elections, 1967, 22 

elections, 1968, 22 

elections, 1972, 21 
Eliaser, Ann, 13 

Engle, Clair, 8, 16, 18 

Farrell, Mary, 8 

Feinstein, Dianne, 8, 13, 21 

Gatov, Elizabeth Smith, 8 
Graves, Richard, 9 

Heller, Elinor, 14 
Huff, Martin, 15 

Irish, in politics, 4 

Jaicks, Agar, 24 
Johnson, Lyndon, 22 


Kennedy, John F. , 12, 18 
Kent, Roger, 3, 6, 10, 11, 15, 18, 
19-20, 21, 25, 27-28 

Knight, Goodwin, 9 

labor, and politics, 4, 15 

Lapham, Roger, 3 

legislature, legislation, 14, 20, 

22, 25-26 
Lynch, Tom, 22 

Magnin, Cyril, 2 

Malone, William, 1-4, 9, 14, 20-21, 


Marks, Milton, 21 
McKinnon, Clinton D. , 6, 17 
media, 7, 25 

Miller, George, Jr., 5-6, 10, 11 
minorities, in politics, 4, 22 
Mullens family, 2 
Muskie, Edmund S. , 21 

Orrick, William H. , 19 

patronage, 27 
Pelosi, Ron, 21 
Porter, Julia, 14 

Reilly, George R. , 3 
Republican party, Republicans, 3, 
9, 21, 27 

Tuck, Dick, 7-8 

volunteers, in politics, 3, 8, 

9-14, 16-17, 18, 21, 22, 26-27 
voter registration, 24 

youth, and politics, 8, 11-12, 24 

women, and politics, 8, 13-14 

Salinger, Pierre, 18 

San Francisco, politics in, 1-3, 

13, 21-22, 24 

Saunders, Thomas N. , 16-17, 18, 22 
Shelley, John, 5, 14, 22 
Stevenson, Adlai, 11-12 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 

The Don L. Bradley Memorial Project 

Martin Huff 


An Interview Conducted by 
Gabrielle Morris 
in 1986 

Copyright (IT] 1987 by The Regents of the University of California 







Preliminary Conversation 1 

Master's Thesis on the U.S. Supreme Court 3 

1952 Election Bet: A Political Education 4 

Party Field Worker Van Dempsey 6 

Democratic Leadership Figures 9 

The Kennedy Campaign: Oakland 1959 13 


The Early Years 18 

Democratic Party Activist 20 

Appointment as Oakland Auditor-Controller: 1958 21 

State Party Organization, North and South 23 

Working with the Legislature 24 

Unwinnable Elections 25 

Family Issues 26 


The Kennedy Election 27 

Adlai Stevenson and the California Democratic Committee 29 

Thoughts on Political Career Building 33 

Party Divisions Begin 36 

Single Issue Politics 41 


Mr. Huff Goes to Sacramento 43 

A Question of Style 46 

Political Philosophy and Personalities 49 

Mr. Huff Meets Governor Reagan 52 

Establishing State Income Tax Withholding 54 


The Legacies of Roger Kent and Don Bradley 59 

Closing Thoughts 61 



"Tax Collector Huff Politicians ' Enemy No. 1," Carolyn Street, 

California Journal, November 1977,3810383 66 

"Improving the California Personal Income Tax," Martin Huff, 

University Extension, University of California, 1978 69 

Comments at Memorial Service for Roger Kent, May 22, 1980 71 



Curr i cu 1 urn Vi tae 

Resi dence 1909 8th Avenue, Sacramento, CA 9581 S. Tel: 916/441-5410 
Fro-f ess- i on Management Consu 1 tan t/CPA 

E x p e r i e n c e 

Current Martin Hu-f-f and Associates, Sacramento, California 

Consultant - Management and Taxation 

Sacramento Regional Transit District (public agency) 
Member, Board o-f Directors, 19SO- (President, 1983) 
Chair, Finance Administration Committee (1986) 

Para transit, Inc. (n on -pro-fit corporation) 

Member, Board o-f Directors, 1984- (President, 1986) 

Prior 1978-80 Cali-f. State University, Sacramento 

Faculty (part time), Public Administration 

1963-79 Cali-f. State Franchise Tax Board (public agency) 
Execu t i ve O-f -f i cer 

1958-63 City o-f Oakland, Cali-f. 

Auditor-Controller (n on -part, elective o-f -f ice) 

1953-58 T imp son, Boyle & Hu-f-f, CPA's, Oakland, Cali-f. 
Senior Accountant to Partner 

1951-53 Peterson Tractor Co., San Leandro, Cali-f. 
Assistant Chie-f Accountant 

1949-51 Mulgrew Printers, Inc., Oakland, Cali-f. 

Educat i on Federal Executive Institute, Char 1 ot tesv i 1 1 e , VA 

Graduate, Senior Executive Education Program (1976) 

California State University, Sacramento 
M.A., Government (1970) 

Un i v e r s i t y o-f Cali-f or n i a ,' Berkeley 

B.S., Business Administration (1949) 

Antioch College, Yellow Springs, OH 
Freshman (1940-41) 

Hi gh School s: 

Boys High School, Brooklyn, NY (1939-40) C 50 00] 

Mallejo Sr . Hi School, Vallejo, CA (1938-39) [2000] 

The Principia, St. Louis, MO (1937-38) t 250] 

American School, Guam, M.I. (1936-37) [ 101 

Martin Hu-f-f page 1 1* March 1986 


Prof es s i on &1 

Assoc i ?. t i ons American Institute o-f CPA's (1953-85) 

Calif. Society of CPA's < 1958-35) 
Mi ce -Pre si dent (1968-69) 
Govt. Acctg. & Auditing Comm. (1960-65) 

Chair (1963-65) 
Pro-f. Development Comm. (1971-74) 

Chair (1973-74) 

Beta Alpha Ps i , Nat'l. Honorary Acctg. Society C1949-) 

Nat'l. Assn. o-f Tax Administrators (1963-79) 
President (1978-79) 

Fe de r a t i on o-f Tax Adm i n i s t r a t or s ( 1 963-79 ) 
Chair, Board o-f Trustees (1973-79) 

Municipal Finance O-f -fleers' Assn., U . S .^Canada. ( 1 953-68) 
Ch air, Nor them California (1 960-63 ) 

Society of Governmental Accountants (1958-63) 
President, Bay Area Chapter (1959-60) 

Commun i ty 
Ser v i ce 

Current Developmental Disabilities Service Org., Sacramento 

Member, Board of Directors (1982-) 

Prior Suicide Prevention Service of Sacramento County 

Member, Board of Directors (1980-82) 

U. S. Savings Bond Drive, Calif. State Govt. Campaign 
State Chair (1977) 

United Way, Sacramento Area 

President (1971-72) 


Commun i ty Serv ices PI ann i ng Counc i 1 , Sacramento 
Member, Board of Directors (1969-71) 

Citizens ' Adv i sor y Comm . , Sac r ame n t o (Jn i f . Sc h . District 
Yice Chair (1968-69) 

Council of Social Planning, A lame da County, Calif. 
Treasurer (1962-63) 

United Bay Area Crusade, San Francisco, Calif. 
Member, Board of Governors (1962-63) 

Oak 1 and Symphony Assn . , Oak 1 and , Cal i f . 
Member, Board of Directors (1961-63) 

Martin Huff page 2 16 March 1 9 


Alameda Count/ United Fund, Oakland, Calif. (1958-63) 
Member, Public Relations Comm . (1963) 
Member, Executive Comm. ( 1960 -63 ) 
Vice Chair, Central (1961) 
Chair, Public Emp 1 oy e e s (I960) 
Chair, City of Oak land (1 959 ) 
Vice Chair, City o-f Oakland <195S) 

A 1 ame da Cou n t y I n s t i t u t i on s Comm i ss i on ( 1 959-63 > 
Cha i r , Execu t i ve Comm . ( 1 960-63) 

Council o-f Community Services - Oakland Area 

Chair, Commission on Leisure Time Services (1959-60) 

Recreat i on 
5 & r v i c e 

Current Sacramento Book Collectors'' Club, Sacramento 

President (1986) 

Treasurer (1931-86) 

USS SACRAMENTO , Ch ap t e r #91, USCS , Sac r ame n t o 
Treasurer ( 1985-) 

Prior Sacramento Council of International Visitors, Sacramento 

President (1984) 

Na t i one. 1 

Serv i ce U. S. Merchant Marine 

Able Seaman to Second Mate (1941-46) 

U. S. Naval Reserve (inactive) 
Apprentice Seaman (1941-44) 

Per son a 1 

Data Born: Hut chin son, Kansas 10 March 1923 

Married: Anne E . M i 1 burn 3 June 1944 
B.A., Antioch College (1943) 
M.S.UI. , "Cal i f . State Un i v . , Sac to (1971) 

Children: Roger M. Huff (39), At tor ney-at-Law & 
Comdr . , USCGR , Chicago 

Douglas M. Huff (37), Principal Basoonist, 
Regensberg Philharmonic Orchestra, 
Regensberg, West Germany 

Susan M. Wagner (34), Housewife & Mother 
of 2, Ex -I nsu ranee Supervisor 

Hobbies: Philatelic covers, book collecting, swimming, 
white water river running, travel, classical 
mus i c 

Martin Huff page 3 16 March 1986 


Tr ade Ur. I on 

Ac t i v i ty Cannery Workers Union (Teamsters Affiliate) (1946) 

National Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots of 
America, West Coast Local 90 (1945-46) 

International Brotherhood o-f Electrical Workers, 
AFL (1944) 

National Maritime Union, CIO (1943-45) 

Pol i t i ca.1 

Ac t i v \ ty Democ r a t i c Part > Pos i t i on s : 

Democratic State Central Committee 
Treasurer (1956-53, 1960-63) 
Co-Chair, 8th Congressional District (1954-56) 

California Democratic Council 
Trustee (1957-58) 

Democratic Council o-f Clubs, 8th Cong. District 
President (1956-57) 

Democratic Central Committee o-f A lame da County 
Secretary (1952-54) 

15th A. D. Democratic Club (1950-63) 

Con ven t i ons : 

Democratic National Conventions 

Delegate, Los Angeles (1960) - Kennedy/ John son 
Delegate, Chicago (1956) - Stevenson/Kef auver 

Cal i i or n i a Democrat i c Counc i 1 

Delegate, Mem., Finance Comm., Fresno (1953) 

Delegate, Mem., Credentials Comm., Long Beach (1957) 

Delegate, V.C., Credentials Comm., Fresno (1956) 

Delegate, Mem., Credentials Comm., Fresno (1955; 1 

Delegate Fresno ( 1 954 

Delegate (Founding Convention) Fresno (1953) 

Scribe ( Pr e -Found i ng Meeting) Asilomar (1953) 

Democratic Endorsing Convention, A lame da County 

Delegate Oakland (1953) 

Democratic Endorsing Convention, 8th Cong. District 
Delegate, Perm. Convention Chair San Leandr o( 1 956) 
Delegate San Leandro( 1 954 ) 

Camp a i gn Ac t i v i ty : 
Martin Huff page 4 16 March 1 9 


1962 General Election 

Treasurer, Brown -for Governor 
Petris -for Assembly (15th A.D.) 

Pr i mary El ec t i on 

Treasurer, Brown -for Governor 
Petris -for Assembly (15th A.D.) 

1960 Genera 1 El ec t i on 

No. Calif. Treasurer, Kennedy /Johnson 
Manager, Petris -for Assembly (15th A.D.) 

1 960 Pr imary El ec t i on 

Man age r , Petris f or Assemb 1 y (15th A.D.) 

1 953 Fr imary El ec t i on 

Man age r , Petris i or Assemb 1 y (15th A.D.) 
Treasurer, Holmdahl -for State Senate (16 S.D.) 

1 956 General El ec t i on 

Treasurer, Stevenson/Kef auver - Al ameda Co 
Treasurer, Richards -for U.S. Senate - Al ameda Co 
Treasurer, Dollars -for Democrats -No. Calif. 
Treasurer, Dollars -for Democrats - A 1 ameda Co 
River -for Assembly (15th A.D.) 

Pr i mar y El ec t i on 

Treasurer, Stevenson Campaign - A lame da Co 
Treasurer, Richards for U.S. Senate - A 1 ameda Co 
River for Assembly (15th A.D.) 

1955 Kirwan Dinner Committee - Al ameda Co 

Treasur er 
Stevenson for Pres. Or g . Comm . - A 1 ameda Co 

Tr easurer 
Holmdahl for Council Campaign Committee - Oakland 

Tr easurer 

1954 General Election 

Treasurer, River for Assembly (15th A.D.) 

Miller for Congress (8th C.D.) 

BJornson for State Senate (16th S.D.) 

River for Assembly (15th A.D.) 

Graves/Roybal Campaign Committee - A lame da Co 

Pr i mary El ec t i on 

Treasurer, River for Assembly (15th A.D.) 
Miller for Congress (8th C.D.) 
Bjornson for State Senate (16th A.D.) 
River for Assembly (15th A.D.) 
Graves/Roybal Campaign Comm i tee - A lame da Co 

Martin Huff page 5 16 March 1 9S6 


1952 General El ec t i on 

Stevenson/Spar kmen Campaign Comm . - Alameda Co 
Miller for Congress (8th C.D.) 

Pr i mary El ec t i on 

Potstada for Assembly (15th A.D.) 
Miller for Congress (8th C.D.) 

1950 General Election 

Miller for Congress (8th C.D.) 
Douglas for U. S. Senate - Alameda Co 

Pr i mary El ec t i on 

Moore for Assembly (15th A.D.) 
Miller for Congress (8th C.D.) 
Roosevelt for Governor - Alameda Co 
Douglas for U. S. Senate - Alameda Co 

1945 General El ec t i on 

Uernon for Assembly (14th A.D.) 

Miller for Congress (8th C.D.) 

Truman/Bark 1 ey Campaign Committee - Alameda Co 

1946 General El ec t i on 

Miller for Congress (8th C.D.) 

Pr i mary El ec t i on 

Roach for Assembly (14th A.D.) 

Miller for Congress (8th C.D.) 

Will Rogers, Jr. for U. S. Senate - Alameda Co 

Kenney for Governor - Alameda Co 

1944 General Election 

Irwin for Assembly (14th A.D.) 
Miller for Congress (8th C.D.) 
Roosevelt for President - Alameda Co 

Pol i t i c a 1 Pu b 1 i c a t i on s : 

Alameda County Democrat: Co-founder/Editor (c. 1950-53) 

F am i 1 y 

Background Both parents, both maternal grandparents, and one 

paternal grandparent were born in Kansas. My paternal 

grandfather was born in Missouri. 

Both parents were first generation college graduates 
( baccal aur eates) . 

Father enlisted in the U. S. Navy in WWI . At end of UIWI, 
he elected to stay. As Ch . Pharmacist (Ch. Warrant 
Officer) (pre-UIWI I) & Lt. Comdr . (WWII) served as hos 
pital administrator: Great Lakes, IL ( 2x ) ; Mare Island, 
CA (2x); Guam. M.I.; Brooklyn, NY (2x); Londonderry, 

Martin Huff page 6 16 March 1984 

No. Ireland; Portsmouth, VA . 

Neither parent was a registered voter until my -father 
retired -from the Navy in 1947. They registered as 
Republ icans. MX -father had a personal disl ike -for FDR 
because a -fellow hospital corps-man who became FDR's 
masseur was promoted by presidential directive rather 
than through competitive examination. 

My social conscience was awakened by my junior year 
history/English teacher. He had the most pro-found 
a-f-fect on me o-f any teacher/pro-f essor in high school 
or col 1 ege . 

In 1940, I was a Ulillkie supporter. In our -freshman 
Hall at Antioch College (a liberal school), o-f 
seventeen o-f us, -fifteen supported FDR and two o-f 
us, Willkie. <A11 -fifteen we re later n on -p o 1 i t i c a. 1 
types, but mysel-f and the other UHlllkie-ite wound-up 
being active California Democrats!) 

My first political activity was in 1943. While waiting 
in the union hiring hall for a ship, volunteers were 
called for to punch doorbells for Mike Quill, the head 
of the N . Y . C .Tr anspor t Workers Union, who was running 
for Ci ty Counc i 1 . 

My wife and I were married in New Jersey in 1944 and 
came directly to the Bay Area after our honeymoon. My 
wife had never been west of Chicago. In California, she 
found she was disenfranchised. New Jersey had no pro 
vision for absentee ballots and California had a one 
year residence requirement. (I had travelled 1200 miles 
round trip from New York during the war to register in 
in Ohio Republ i can so I could vote against Robert A. 
Taf t for U. S. Senate in the Ohio primary). 

Anne was the first to hold a Democratic Party position 
when she was appoin-ted to the Democratic State Central 
Committee in 1948 by Assembly nominee Ernie Vernon. As 
a State Committee member, she sat on the platform when 
Harry Truman came to Oakland that year. 

Huff page 7 16 March 19S6 



Martin Huff is a treasure trove of thoughtful observations on 
Democratic strategies, successes, and failures from his long career in 
the nuts and bolts of party politics. An earnest, attractive person, 
active in many causes though officially retired as executive of the 
California Franchise Tax Board, Huff and his wife, Anne, got involved 
in Alameda County legislative and congressional campaigns soon after they 
moved to California in 1944. A stickler for detail and accuracy, Huff 
became treasurer of the local congressional district committee and then of 
the Democratic State Central Committee, where he worked closely with 
Roger Kent and other statewide leaders. 

The interview provides a picture of the sleepy local politics in 
Alameda County in the 1950s, including a vignette of the awe inspired 
by old Joe Knowland , publisher of the Oakland Tribune and long considered 
a Republican kingmaker. 

I finally concluded that they [the city council] were second- 
guessing they had no direct orders or knowledge what they 
thought Old Man Joe wanted. ...just from the little exposure 
that I had, I was convinced that his philosophy and views on 
issues weren't anywhere near as harsh, or conservative, or 
reactionary, as the people that were executing policy they 
thought in his name. [page 33] 

Nothing daunted, Huff and friends succeeded in electing new blood to the 
city council, and Huff himself served a term as city auditor. 

Early meetings of the California Democratic Council are also 
described, and local and state Democratic conventions. They convey a 
sense of the excitement of those days and provide insights on 
Governor Pat Brown, Senator Pierre Salinger, Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh, 
Huff's close friend State Senator Nicholas Petris, and on several notable 
political crises. 

Although the interviewer had hoped to obtain information on 
organizational developments after Roger Kent retired from Democratic 
leadership, Huff stated that he had withdrawn from active party work when 
he accepted an appointment from Pat Brown in 1963 to head the Franchise 
Tax Board. What he provides instead is a fascinating account of the 
FTB accomplishing a complex administrative innovation: the institution 
of income tax withholding in 1972. 


Ronald Reagan was then governor and strongly opposed to tax 
withholding. Huff's account tells of securing the governor's agreement 
and of the simultaneous passage of enabling legislation and setting up 
FTB procedures to meet statutory deadlines. We see at work the skills of 
negotiation and precision handling of detail learned in political campaigns, 
and also something of the operation of a little-known, important state 

Two interviews were recorded with Huff on April 2 and 23, 1986, in 
his small, comfortable home on a tree-lined street in Sacramento. At the 
first session, he sorted through a pile of photographs of political events 
and gave the interviewer a brief glimpse of a fine collection of press 
clippings he had kept since 1966 and letters to his son and grandson that 
comment on public affairs. It is hoped that these materials will eventually 
be deposited in the State Archives or other depository where they will 
be available to scholars. 

A lightly edited transcript of the interviews was sent to Huff for 
review. In making revisions, Huff entered the entire manuscript on 
his personal computer, a labor above and beyond the call of duty. Shortly 
thereafter, his son, Roger, arrived for a brief visit, read the 
transcript, and made a few additional suggestions. These were entered and 
a second printout sent to the Regional Oral History Office. In 
appreciation of his helpfulness on a tightly budgeted project, the interview 
is presented as Huff prepared it. Minor variations from ROHO's usual 
style reflect capitalization policy in state government. 

Gabrielle Morris 

22 April 1987 

Regional Oral History Office 

486 The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 


While I accept sole responsibility for the content and substance of my 
remarks during the interviews, 1 wish to acknowledge the editorial 
assistance of my wife, Anne M. Huff, and older son, Roger M. Huff. The); 
identified typographical errors, pointed out instances where more 
specificity as to names and dates wou Id be helpful, and questioned 
comments and words of art that needed clarification and/or 
amp 1 i f i cat i on . 

Martin Huff 

26 January 1987 


Fr e 1 i m I n ar y Con v e r sa t i on s 

Huff : Do you 
Nor r j s : Sure . 
Huf f ; There's 
headquarters were 
and ear 1 y 1 960 ' s ; 
be i ng in 1 953 , i t 
central c omm i 1 1 e e , 
season ' ] . 
Morr i s : 
Huff ; 
abou t . 
Morr i s 

want to take a quick look at the pictures now? 

a 212 Gang'' picture [Northern California Democratic 
at 212 Sutter Street, San Francisco in the 1950's 
when the California Democratic Council came into 
was housed jointly with the Democratic state 
as well as ad hoc groups and campaign committees 'in 


Huff : 
Morr i s 
Huff : 
Morr i s 

e v e n 
Th e y 

looks like it's in the -fifties. 
Here's another. See if you can identify what 
took me a few minutes to dope it out. 
re all delegates to something. 
the faces. 

it's all 

And they all look rather pleased. There's George Wallace. 

Sure. These were all governors. 

Good heavens! [laughs] 

1966, the governors of the United States. 

Meeting in Los Angeles'? 

Yes, the 1966 National Governors' Conference. 

I don't see Pat Brown. 

Huff ; He was the host governor and was probably called away when 
they snapped the picture. 

H_u f f ; See the picture on the far wall? That's autographed both by 
Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and Governor Edmund G. (Pat) Brown. 
That was taken at the conference at one of the large hotels in Beverly 
Hills. I was at the conference on special assignment. I was in charge 
of the 'little' Governor's Office for the conference. I was responsible 
for all subject matter issues that might come up. It blew my mind 
because I had never been that directly involved in the actual operation 
of the Governor's Office in Sacramento. I can't even recall how I got 
the assignment, but I assume it was Hale Champion's idea [Pat Brown's 
Director of Finance at the time and formerly his Executive Secretary; 
Champion, also, was one of the three members of the State Franchise Tax 
Boa.rd, of which Huff was Executive Officer]. I had all these issue 
papers, but knew only what was on an e i gh t-and-hal f -by-e 1 even- i nch 
sheet of paper on any particular subject, 
whole scope of issues dumped in your lap, 
headache ! 

Morr i s : Awe -inspiring. 

Hu f f ; Yes. This was the day that Life photographers were following 
Pat Brown around all day. Pat went in to see the vice president and 
talk politics for a few minutes. Everybody else who was waiting to see 
Humphrey was sitting around the bedroom on the chairs and the beds. We 
were just like cattle in a chute. When Brown finished his little 
private chat, I had a particular assignment to get Humphrey to take 
some action at the federal level on a labor issue 
the first one in. I wasn't even aware there was a 

When you suddenly have the 
it really gives you a massive 

As a r esu 1 t , I was 
photographer in the 


room. The thing about the photo was that both of them were sitting 

their with their mouths shut listening to me. These are two men who 

were rarely caught not talking. They both autographed the photo. Its a 

col 1 ec tor ' s i tern . 

Nor r i s ; I should say. 

Hu f-f ; There's Ronald Reagan as governor. 

Mor r i s ; You're looking very formal there. 

Huf f ; Well, I really didn't want to be in a picture with the 

governor. That was one of my employees. 

Morr i s : I see . 

Huf f : Here's one on the last days o-f Pat Brown as governor. 

Morr i s ; Putting some plans together? 

Hu-f i : Yes, reviewing our department's proposed work management 

program . 

Here's a City o-f Oakland picture taken when I was leaving -for 
Sacramento. That's City Manager Wayne Thompson and there's the mayor - 
John Hou 1 i han , who 1 ater wen t t o j a i 1 , i i you recal 1 . There ' s a 
little-known section of the State Constitution that goes back to Hiram 
Johnson's day, that says that if a California public official accepts 
free public transportation it acts to terminate his office. It's a 
se 1 f -execu t i ng provision. [A Johnson reform to help break the hold of 
the Southern Pacific on state and local officials.] Houlihan had 
flown some time before this picture --on an inaugural Delta flight from 
Oakland to New Orleans, and had done it gratis. After he submitted his 
travel expense claim, I called him into my office (not something even 
an elected audi tor control 1 *r does every day!) and told him he had 
three choices before I processed the claim: have the City Council pay 
for the air fare; pay for it out of his own pocket; or forfeit his 
of f i ce as mayor . 

Houlihan would have been better off in the long run, if he 
had taken the third option. Politically, he didn't want to take the 
claim to the council, for some reason I didn't know. George Christopher 
[former Mayor of San Francisco! had been, in my opinion, violating the 
Constitution for years, and Houlihan had been using as a precedent the 
fact that Christopher had done this with the Chamber of Commerce paying 
for some of his junkets. When he proposed that the Oakland Chamber do 
1 ikewise for him, I told the mayor that wouldn't satisfy the 
Constitution, so he paid for the flight out of his own pocket. For all 
that, he was a bri 1 1 iant man. 
Morr i s ; Hou 1 ihan? 

Huf f ; Houlihan. His problems were alcohol and a classic case of the 
pressures of public office. He ran a one-man attorney office, became 
councilman, then mayor. The mayoralty pay was only $7,500 a year, and 
he tried to maintain his social standing and general standard of 
living, including raising a good size family, with that pay and a 
declining law practice. He ended up dipping into his attorney's trust 
fund and 'borrowed', as I recall , close to * 100 ,000 from the estate of 
a w i dow . 

Morr i s ; I know he came to grief. 

Huff ; He served his time at Uacaville Ca state correctional 
facility] having been convicted of a felony and been disbarred as a 
result. One of Reagan's last acts was to restore his citizenship, a 
considerable time after his release and rehabilitation. 
Morris: You were in the mayor's office? 

Hubert Humphrey, Governor Brown, and Huff at 1966 National Governors Conference, meeting 
in Los Angeles. 

Huf f ; No, I was the elected auditor-controller. 

Morn I s : Th a t ' s right. 

Hu-f f i 1 was independent of the mayor and city council. 

Morr i s: So you know about the problems o-f beino, elected as auditor? 

Huff : Oh, yes. 

Master s Thesis on the U. S. Supreme Court 

Hu-f f ; You wouldn't know what this is, but that's a photo o-f Federal 

Circuit Court Judge Haynsworth,, who Nixon nominated to the U. S. 

Supreme Cour t--C1 emen t Haynsworth. I interviewed him a-fter his 

rejection by the U. S. Senate. That was the subject o-f my master's 

thesis, comparing his rejection to the rejection o-f [President] 

Hoover's nominee, Circuit Court Judge Parker. These were the -first two 

such rejections by the U. S. Senate in this century. 

Morr i s ; Really? Very interesting. 

Hu-f i : Part o-f the story is how I got to see Haynsworth. I had my 

two sons with me like a m i 1 i tary esc or t . 

Morr i s ; In un i -f orm? 

Hu-f-f : In uniform. One was a soldier at the Armed Forces School o-f 

Music in Nor -folk CVa] , and the other had just received his commission 

as an ensign at the Coast Guard Training Center in York town CVa] . They 

drove down to Greenville, South Carolina, with me to the interview. I 

later turned that interview into one with U. S. Supreme Court Justice 

HUQO Black. I consider the Black interview, the h i oh point o-f my entire 


Mor r i s : About the process o-f-- 

Hut -f : Well Black had voted as a senator to reject Parker, and I 

used that, and the -fact that I had interviewed Haynsworth as my entree. 

I have just -finished reading [summer 1936] his [Black's] widow's 

memoirs, and tied in the date that I saw him and interviewed him in his 

home in Alexandria, VA with a dinner he hosted in his home -for 

Haynsworth six weeks later. 

Morr i s ; That's interesting, that they continued to have personal 

contact, though-- Professional curiousity did you tape-record the 

i n ter v i ew? 

Hu-f-f ; No. I was prepared to. I had a tape recorder, but in both 

interviews I made the judgment not to take notes or tape-record, or 

even ask. In both cases, I just wrote like mad a-fterwards. A-fter the 

Haynsworth interview, my sons were able to jog my memory as we sat in 

the car outside the courthouse. 

In the case o-f Black, I did take just one note, which was to 
write down the name when I thought I had a parallel between the wife of 
the attorney general under Hoover and Martha Mitchell [the wife of 
Nixon's attorney general]. It's the one thing Black wrote back about to 
tell me that she was somebody else. 

Mine was one of his last interviews. I believe it was held 
about twenty months before he died. CA good part of that later period 
Black was in i 1 1 -heal th . ] 
Morr i s ; How long were you able to talk to him? 

About an hour and a half. 

That's a remarkable job, to recall what you've heard for that 
length of t ime . 
Huff ; I sent my write-up back to him to review afterwards, and of 

course, my understanding with him was no direct quotes. It was all 
third-party attribution. The one human interest part of it was that he 
had one phone call in the middle o-f the interview. His phone wasn't at 
his desk in the study. It was on a table where he had to get up and go 
to it. I -figured it must have been set-up that way on purpose'. When he 
walked over to answer the phone, I wandered around. He had all these 
large photographs o-f the court 'en bane"' in various years and at 
various a-f -fairs at the White House. The walls were lined with books. 
There were an awful lot o-f books about tennis. I didn't know anything 
about his personal 1 i -fe at the time, but all his life he'd been playing 

Morr i s : Real 1 y? 

Huff ; I had no knowledge o-f this at al 1 . So when his phone 
conversation was over he sat down, and the -first thing he did was to 
pick up a paperweight, which was two bronze tennis racquets tipped 
together. O-f course, I was desperately trying to -figure out to 
reconnect the link a-fter his phone call. As a re-opener, I mentioned 
that it looked like he had some interest in tennis. There was this kind 
of pause and he very gently told me that his wife and he were out 
playing that morning. 

This was, as I recall, at the age of eighty-four. Then, of 
course, when I read his widow's book, it was full of tennis. He even 
kept at it when he had problems with his eyes--out there trying to hit 
balls. The Blacks had their own dirt tennis court. 

Morr i s ; Marvelous. Probably a great outlet for the frustrations of 
sitting on the bench. 

Huff : There's a couple of shots of me . I think those were taken by 
Uan Dempsey. That would be about I960, or so. 
Morr i s ; How late did you wear a crew cut? 
Huf f ; I don't remember. Quite late. 

There's me as a second mate in the Spring of '46. 
Morr is ; That looks like a nice trip. 

Huf f ! It was. Down the west coast of Central America the coffee 
run. It was after the war. It was my last trip as a merchant marine 
of f i cer . 

These pictures are all kind of random. 

1952 Election Bet; A Political Education 

This is the San Francisco Examiner just after the election 
52. That was the first and last time I ever made an election bet. I 
assistant chief accountant for a Caterpillar Tractor dealer, and 
receptionist was an ardent Republican, so I had bet her a pie in 
face on the presidential race. When it came time to pay off the 

it had become a cause ce 1 ebr e . There were batteries of 
photographers, including Life magazine and most of the Bay Area 
newspapers. (Life had earlier east coast election bet photos so mine 
didn't make it, although it was the highest featured photo story to 
that time by the local San Leandro paper --they ran it above their 
masthead as a series of stills with the pie moving to my face as the 
target frame by frame. I believe locating it that way was unprecedented 
for them.) I was wearing a black armband with a donkey on it. 

My company [Peterson Tractor, the Caterpillar dealer] finally 
had gotten into the act, and wanted to make a full-scale show of it, so 

they asked me not to wear a protect! ye apron, just let my suit be 
ruined. They promised me a new suit. It was a mess because it was one 
of those classic retake events. They had a dozen pies on hand. 
Morr i s ! And you stood there while they threw all of them at you? 
Huf f ; Not al 1 of them, but there were many retake requests. My kids 
were small at the time. I think it was my second son who was just 
terrified at what they were doing to his dad. 

Huf f ; Here's a pretty good group. That's got names on the back. 
Morr i s ; This is Ben Swig [manager/owner of the Fairmont Hotel], isn't 
i t? 

Huff : He's there. Joe Hough te ling [later state highway 
commissioner, member of the Bay Area Development Commission, and 
currently member of the Cal ifornia Tahoe Planning Agency], Roger 
Kent . 

Nor r i s ; May, 1961. So this is a strategy session for the '62 
camp a i gn? 

Huff ; For a fund raising event, or something like that. These were 
all moneybag types. Jane Morrison was there. 

Cranston as state controller. I was auditor-controller 

[Oakland]. The inheritance tax appraiser was the mayor of Oakland back 
in the late ' 40 ' s , and that s a whole story in itself. 
Morr i s ; Joe Smith? 

Huff ; Joe Smith. In fact, it was that Oakland city council election 
in '47 that taught me a lot about what to do and what not to do, in 
terms of winning and losing political power. The new winning council men 
made the worst political exercise in judgment. They'd had a general 
strike in Oakland, and 
Morr i s : I n ' 46? 

Huf f ; About then, and then came the election in '47. Five of the 
i nine council men were up. At the time the council chose its own mayor. 
So there was this group attacking the 'ins', and four of the five won, 
which meant they didn't have a majority. But they insisted on electing 
Joe mayor. (He had received the highest number of votes and it was 
traditional to select the mayor that way.) 
Morr i s ; This new incoming group? 

Huff ; The incoming group, instead of taking the dean of the old 
group as mayor. The new members were losers from that day on. They 
rarely could muster five votes on any issue. It was so elementary, but 
they were all so heady with victory, and the euphoria of it al 1 , and 
what they were going to do, and 

Morr i s ; And refusing to make any concessions to the old guard? 
Hu f f ; That's right, the old guard. Again, the art of compromise, 
how to be practical. 

Morr i s ; Did you take some pol itical science courses along with the 
business classes? 

Huff : At Berkeley? [University of California] Never. I had no use 
for them, I didn't feel they related to the real world at all. I took 
government at Sac State [California State University, Sacramento]--! 
got my masters degree there. But I did that at night. 
Morr i s ! That was while you were in Sacramento? 

Huf f ; Well, I'd actually started at Berkeley before I came up here. 
Morr i s : And does the government curriculum include the political 
aspec t s of it? 

Huf f : Not really, no. Well, it would touch on it, but there were no 
direct courses on the political side, although I was later a part-time 


instructor at Sac State and did incorporate the political dimension, 

including inviting politicians as guest lecturers. I learned all mine 

the hard way. I had no use for people like Peter Odegard [former 

Chairman, Political Science Department, UC , Berkeley and one-time 

aspirant to be a U. S. Senator, circa 1954]. I thought he was a 

"horse' s-ass" . 

Morr i s : You were aware of the loyalty oath crisis while you were a 


Huff ; Oh, yes. Didn't affect me directly. 

Morr i s ; There wasn't any sense of student involvement in the issue? 

Huff ; Maybe there was for others, but not with me. I worked full 

time and was only on campus for classes. 

Party Field Ulorker Van Dempsey 

Huff ; There's a photo of my wife, Anne, and that's Betty Dempsey. 

Mor r i s ; I hope along the way that you'll talk about Man Dempsey. 

Huff : Oh, I could probably tell you some things that few knew about 

Van Dempsey. 

Morr i s ; He is mentioned in several of our interviews with Democratic 

party officials. They say he was really r nard worker, and we couldn't 

have done it without him, but nobody says what he did. 

Huf f ; Well, of course, a big part of his value was that he was a 

laid-back operator. He was not a bureaucrat --he couldn't stand the 

office, or office work, and he didn't want to be in San Francisco. He 

was a field worker, and during special elections, a local campaign 

manager; he was out there where the action was, talking to everybody, 

and putting things together. I was trying to think of how I got 

connec ted--that was one of your questions to the state operation. Van 

was also from A lame da County. If anybody was responsible for dragging 

me over to San Francisco, it was probably Van, but I can't remember 

spec i f i c-- 

Mor r i s ; He was on the state central committee payroll? 

Huf f ; No, no. Never. Oh, I thought you meant a member of the 

committee? On the payroll, yes. But, you see, what even Roger [Kent] 

probably didn't know was that the entire time, even his labor union 

time, he was independently wealthy. He never had to work a day in his 


Morr i s : I see . 

Huff ; He was the black sheep of his family out of Illinois, who 

were all conservative Republ icans. His widow of now what, eight years 

or so?--still lives in the same modest home in Castro Valley. You could 

never tell by Van's lifestyle, or anything he said or did, that he had 

this independent wealth. In fact one of his principal problems was 

trying to manage his investments and get as much of his estate as he 

could transferred down to the next generation as smoothly as possible. 

<" Smoothly" is defined as: with as few tax consequences as possible!) 

Mor r i s ; And he was working for the Democratic party--was his 

territory Al ameda County or was it a broader area? 

Huff ; No, the whole hinterland. 

Morr i s; The hinterland? The valley and the northern counties? 

Huff ; The valley and the north, right. 

Morr i s : In northern California? 

Huff : Right. 

Morr i s ; Southern California? 

Hu-f -f ; Only in rare and special cases. Most o-f the special elections 

were in northern California. Uan was raised in hard-ball UAW [United 

Auto Workers] politics. He was a union officer, and there were two 

other officers in the local at the San Leandro Dodge plant, which shut 

down not too long after opening as a brand new plant. The local was 

reduced to the three officers, as I recall. The expectancy was that the 

plant would re -op en at any time. They ended up spending something like 

two years cleaning toilet bowls, hundreds of them, in a big auto 

factorydoing every kind of dirty, miserable job, just in the hopes 

that, next week, or next month, they were going to re -op en the plant. 

Keep that union alive. I mean, it was that kind of dedication. 

Morr i s ; Even though the plant was closed, they continued to take care 

of the maintenance. 

Huf f ; It was a minimum kind of maintenance program. 

Morr i s ; On the Auto Workers 1 ' payroll? 

Huf f i No, on the Dodge plant payroll. Well, they were also union I 

dorr t know the facts on that, I really can't say. If it was the union 

payroll, there had to be some kind of connection formed to be actually 

working in the plant for insurance purposes, and the like. 

Morr i s : Right. So as far back as the ' 50 ' s , Uan was working on special 

e 1 ec t i ons? 

Huff ! Oh, yes. 

Morr i s ; To make sure the Democrats were elected. 

Huf f ; It was those series of special elections that really brought 

the whole thing--made '58 possible when everything fell together. And 

also made it possible because they were focused, so you could send in 

your resources from everywhere. What in effect happened was that these 

small elections would be invaded by all kinds of out landers, and we had 

to be very careful about that because if you were detected as an 

outsider, that worked the other way. 

Morr i s ; Particularly in a small community, where a lot of people knew 

each other. 

Huf f ; Oh, yes, they knew everybody. Well, one of Uan ' s real assets 

jwas this ability he was virtually a chameleon. He just fitted into the 
whole country style, and was accepted by the local people long before 
there was even a hint of an election; just became the nuts and bolts 

\ man . 

This photo is under the Reagan administration, a press 

i conference of all the department directors in my agency so that would 

! be , I don't know, 1970-ish. Have I got hair there? 

Morr i s ; Yes, you're growing it out. Department directors? In the 
Franchise Tax Board CFTB]? 

Huf f ; No, the Agriculture and Services Agency. That was the agency 
the FTB was i n . 

Morr i s; [looking at photos] After Earl Coke left? 
Huff ; Let me think. You know Earl Coke? 

Morr i s ; I know of him by reputation and I've read parts of his oral 
h i story . 

Huf f ; Okay. He's a significant person, as far as I'm concerned, 
because he was my agency secretary [cabinet officer], and he was what I 
called a 'no bullshit' man. You only screwed up once with him, then 
he'd just cut your head off. He was my strongest supporter in the 
Reagan administration. I was the Democrat in the Reagan administration 
<and that's another story involving the late State Senator George 

Miller, Jr. [father of the current Congressman]). It was I thought at 
one time--my sort of end-of -the-wor 1 d thing. 

Back under Pat Brown, Hale Champion one time had tried to get 
me to create an extra public relations position in my department, so 
that he could 'borrow it to use it in the Department of Finance. I 
wouldn't countenance that. Anybody that was on my payroll had to work 
for me. One of the old practices around there to this day I think Bob 
Williams, in the governor's office right now, goes back to [Governor] 
Goodie Knight's time, and as far as I know has been on first the Public 
Works payroll and then CALTRANS , but not on the governor's. The 
director of Motor Vehicles under Knight used to work in the governor's 
off ice --and was just nominally the head of Motor V. 

I just wouldn't put up with that. It was contrary to 
everything I believed in. I felt it violated the integrity of the 
process. If they wanted a position, they should have to justify it. The 
excuse was that, politically, it was hard to do, and I never bought 
that. Anyway, I had turned Hale Champion down, which was very difficult 
to do, but I did it. One day this takes me back to Coke we had hired 
somebody out of General Services that apparently had been used by 
Coke's office. We didn't know anything about it, we had just been going 
through the regular hiring process, selected him and hired him. Once he 
was on 

Morr i s ; A new hire, or somebody who had transferred within ? 
Huf f ; A transfer within state government who'd been in the General 
Services department, but assigned to Coke's office. So we hired him not 
knowing this. He got over to our department, and I got this call from 
Coke, asking to con-- 
Morr i s ; I want my man back? 

Huff ; He wanted to continue the arrangement. I groaned inwardly and 
to myself said, "No". I paused, took a deep breath, and said, "No" out 
loud to Coke. And I said to myself, "Here I go" and replayed to myself 
the 'tape' of the Hale Champion conversation. I started to explain, and 
Coke said, "No, you don't have to explain." And he hung up. I thought, 
"My God, Huff, you know it's going to be hell from here on in!" 

That actually worked the other way. From that day on, he knew 
where I stood, and what I stood for. I found out that he had defended 
me in a lot of situations where they were trying to, you know, get 
political, and this type of thing, that I never knew anything about at 
the time. He's a hero in my book. 

Morr i s ; I've heard this several times about the '70s, I'm not sure 
that somebody didn't tell me that this was written into a 
regulation that what you did if you wanted more staff, was you got 
somebody appointed as a deputy 

Huf f ; I doubt if it was a reg, it was probably an executive order, 
or something like that, but I'm not sure if that's any 
Morr i s; To codify the process of 

Huff ; Well, or try to legitimize it. But I don't think that does 
legitimatize it, not in my book, furthermore exempt deputy positions 
are strictly and specifically controlled in the State Constitution. 
Morr i s ; It's interesting to find out that it goes back through several 
adm i n i strat i ons . 

Huf f : Oh, it goes back into antiquity. Matter of fact, one of the 
jokes this is a funny story on the Reagan administration there's this 
new, bright, young guy--he's still active in Republican politics, but 
not quite as new, not as bright but he'd been given the appointment as 



secretary of the Toll Bridge Authority. It was an agency that had 
nominal charge of all the state bridges, but the secretary was the only 
staff. It was a three-man board, which included the governor as one of 
the members, but was a pro-f orma outfit really run by Public Works. The 
secretary's position was one of those spots that was used to staff the 
governor's office, pure and simple. 

So here he was, a bright-eyed guy. Over at Public Works they 
had this huge sign in the lobby that started with the governor and 
listed anybody that was anybody all the way down the line, including 
the Toll Bridge Authority members, but not its secretary. He studied 
the list and found that his position and name were not listed, so he 
went to whoever was in charge of the sign, and asked to be included. 
The person looked dumbfounded because everybody who had ever held that 
position before had made it very clear that they did not want to be 
1 i sted--f or obvious reasons. 

Morr i s ; That they thought of themselves as being in the governor's 
off i ce? 

Huff ; Well, and therefore they wanted to be anonymous. They didn't 
want any public record of it. The other piece of the story was that the 
first time he went down to the Bay Area by car after he had received 
. this august appointment, he came to the Carquinez Bridge, and stopped 
and wanted to inspect it! The local bureaucrats were 

non-plussed here's this young kid, tall, good looking and they said, 
"What are you talking about, who are you?" He told them he was the 
secretary of the Toll Bridge Authority. 

One the bureaucrats got on the horn to Sacramento and the 
conversation as this fellow tells the story on himself was, "Hey Joe, 
we got this fellow, Dana Reed" --that was his name, he's still around in 
the private sector "says he's secretary of the Toll Bridge Authority, 
whatever the hell that is, and wants to inspect the bridge!" Well, Reed 
never got to inspect the bridge. 
Morr i s ; Oh, dear. 

Democratic Leadership Figures 

Huf f ; [Looking at photo] I'm an emcee installing the Oakland 

postmaster. Here's another where I'm with the governor [Pat Brown] this 

is AB 80 being signed. That was the property tax reform bill, way back 

i n when ? 

Morr i s; '66? 

Huf f : Yes, the governor's last year. And that was a tough one. 

That's the one [John T. <D>, llth A.D.] Knox and [Nicholas C. <D>, 9th 

S.D.) Petris co-authored, and Petris got just a terrible beating in his 

district on it. It didn't bother Knox at all. That's Petris. 

Morr i s; Yes. That's interesting: Petris took the beating, and not 

Knox, but Knox has left the legislature, and Petris is still there. 

Huff ; Well, Knox left to make money. Knox used to carry all the 

terrible bills, because he could get them through if anyone could. 

Morr i s ! Yes, he did all the regional organization things 

Huff ; LAFCO [Local Agency Formation Commission] 

Morr i s ; Yes. 

Huf f ; Well, he did a lot of good things, but he also carried a lot 

of stinkers. 

Morris: Because nobody else would carry them, or he had some interest 

Just muscle, and money, and all that kind of-- 
There's old Pierre [Salinger], who helped bring the party down 
when he ran -for U. S. Senator 

[1964] --the whole Engl e fiasco. That was kind of the beginning of the 
end. That photo was taken when he was in the Unite House, with Kennedy. 
Morr i s ; Uas that deliberate on Salinger's part, or accidental? 
Hu-f-f ; Oh, no, it was just bad political judgment all the way around. 
Morr i s ; Uas it that people were looking tor ways to dislodge Pat Brown 
and h i s au thor i ty? 

H u f f ; No, it w*= just the chemistry of the time. It was, I think, 
people's ambition. I think this was one o-f [Don] Bradley's few mistakes 
in judgment. He didn't make very many. But Pierre was so close to him, 
had been such a part and parcel of the operation. 
Morr i s ; Close to Don? 
Huff : Yes. 

Morr i s ; Uas it also partly that Salinger had been a technician working 
on the nuts and bolts of political publicity? One of the questions I 
have come to have is whether the kind of skills that go into publicity 
and government organization and operation, whether those transfer to 
actually being the elected office holder. 

Huff ; Uel 1 , we could carry that off into what's happened to the 
legislature where so many AAs [administrative assistants] have become 
legislators. Uith a few rare exceptions, it's a disaster (Congressman 
U i c Fazio comes to mind as an exception; he started as a state 
legislative AA , then to state legislator, and is now one of the real 
'comers' in the Congress). My notion of how the system should work--and 
I think this was one of Nixon's probl ems-- i s that everybody ought to 
bring something to elective office, in terms of their private-sector 
expertise, experiences and exposure. That they have a perspective, and 
some depth of being. But this whole business of somebody coming out of 
college and becoming an AA , and then something happens to the boss, and 
they end up running and becoming-- 
Mor r i s ; Running for the boss' seat? 
Huf f ; Yes, and the list is pretty long. 

Morr i s ; The problem is that they lack other experience, other than 
governmen tal ? 

Huf f ; Yes, they haven't had any broadening experience. They don't 
have anything to contribute, they're basically sterile. Nixon came 
right out of the Navy in Uor 1 d Uar II. He didn't bring anything, other 
than how to play poker. Ue 1 1 , that's how he got his start. 
Morr i s; As a poker player? 

Huff ; Uell , that's how he got the kitty that he used in his first 
campaign for Congress. 

There's a photo of George Miller, Jr. (late 1960s). Now that is 
a nice picture, but it doesn't do justice to Miller in action. Uhen he 
was chair of Senate Finance, somehow or other it would look like he 
didn't even have a neck at all. It was just a head sitting on his 
shoulders. That's right, all hunched down. And he wouldn't move his 
head, he'd just move his eyes to his colleagues. Those were back in the 
days when you didn't have recorded committee votes, and he would 
announce the count of the vote after just calling for they ayes and 
nays without a roll call. (And as far as I know, no one ever challenged 
his announced vote no matter how disparate it might seem with the sound 
of the ayes and nayes.) 


Morr i s : I see. Whichever way he had ? 

Huf f ; That s right. I saw him once --remember Randolph Collier [Sen. 
(D) 1st S.D.I, the Silver Fox? I saw him do Collier in like he'd never 
been done be -fore. It was a bill that Miller hadn't been briefed on (it 
was a great Collier practice to come in at the last minute with a 
'little old bill' that was innocuous and he had been carrying around 
all session having just then dropped his meaningful amendments into 
it), but Miller smelled a rat. So here's Collier presenting his 'little 
old bill''. And here are those beady Miller eyes, that are shifting back 
and forth, while he's asking penetrating, searching questions, until 

: suddenly you could almost see the light bulb pop above his head-- 

Morr i s : Miller? 

Huf f ; Yes, Miller. And he figuratively took out his sword and just 

cut Collier s head off, as soon as he realized what the Silver Fox was 

up to . C 1 aughs] 

Huff ; This is an old picture of Nicholas Petris. Back in his more 

youthful days. I have to tell you about Petris, because he's the 

closest thing I have to a brother. 

Morr i s; Real 1 y? 

Huff ; Yes. I was campaign manager for his first two campaigns, and I 

was one of two people that talked him into running the first time. 

Morr i s ; For the assembly or the senate? 

Huf f : The assembly, back in '58. Nick was a bright young attorney, a 

first generation Greek. We first got acquainted shortly after I moved 

into the fifteenth assembly district in 1949. We were starry eyed 

idealists (and still are, believe it or not! --even with decades of real 

life political experience under our belts). The young turks in the 

fifteenth assembly district had run a number of candidates against the 

incumbent Republican (Luther 'Abe' Lincoln). We recruited the best 

candidates we could find, but they were no match for an entrenched 
Republ ican. To this day I don't know why Lincoln decided to step down, 

j but we knew we really had a shot at the seat and that we needed the 
best candidate around. Nick was clearly the one, but he was a very 
reluctant candidate. We had to literally drag him into the race. I 
remember taking him down to get a campaign photo before he had actually 
filed his papers. The photographer blew a fuse and all the lights went 
out. Nick's reaction was that that was an omen that he shouldn't run. 
We 11 he did. The comb i nat i on of his h i gh cal i ber as a cand i da te and the 
Kn i gh t -Know 1 and 'switcheroo' gave the Democratic Pary the victory that 
eluded it for the four prior elections. In 1966, Nick moved up to the 
Senate. Nick now shares the dean ship of the legislature with Senator 
Walter Stiern of Bakers-field. Their actual time in the legislature is 
identical, but Stiern has the edge because all of his has been in the 
upper house. With his retirement this year, Nick becomes the dean. 
There's an intriguing aspect to Nick's batting average on 
legislation that he has authored. Most of his campaigns have not been 
very tough, but a few years back he did have a tough one. We researched 
his legislative record and it didn't have as many big name bills as we 
would have 1 iked. We began asking why and soon turned up the answer. 
The first thing one needs to understand about the legislative process 
is that a new idea or new solution to an old problem almost never gets 
enacted in the session at which it is first introduced. As a matter of 
fact, it may take 4-5 times or more 'around the track' before the idea 
even gets taken seriously. What we found was that in Nick's case, he 
was far ahead of his time and colleagues in identifying problems and 

1 1 

developing solutions, but he had difficulty in getting anyone to pay 
any attention to them until the problem suddenly became so acute it 
demanded attention. About the only 'flaw' I can think of in Nick's 
character <if it can be called that) is that he is so selfless that he 
would rather see one of his proposed solutions enacted into law than to 
get the credit. We discovered that time after time he had passed major 
legislation on to someone else for any of a number of reasons <his 
evaluation would be that the other author had a better chance of 
getting it passed or a colleague ''needed'' his name attached to that 
legislation in order to get himself re-elected). 

A good example that comes to mind is the legislation that 
created the Bay Area Conservation Commission. Nick conceived that 
proposed solution and lugged it around the track a number of times, 
then turned it over to Senator [Eugene] McAteer at the critical time 
because Gene thought it would help him in his planned campaign to run 
for Mayor of San Francisco. 

A different kind of example is the auto emission legislation 
that was finally enacted by the Congress. Nick gets the major credit 
for introducing the basic concept when no one was listening. He also 
made a historical record that may never be repeated when he managed to 
get the identical bill introduced in six state legislatures at the same 

Here is an informal shot this is after Pat was governor. It 
doesn't have a date on it, but it was after -'66. 
Morr i s ; Now who's that leading the band? 

Huff ; That is Frank Mesple', he's a tradition in himself. 
Nor r i s ; Really nice guy, yes. 

Huff ; His last act, practically, was to appear before a class of 
mine at Sac State [ Cal i f orn i a State University, Sacramento] as a guest 
lecturer. He had his own class at Davis [UC3, and classes were just 
starting. He had not been teaching for a while and was using mine as a 
warm-up this was on a Thursday, and his class was to start on Monday. 
He was a lobbyist for Sacramento County. At the Franchise Tax Board, I 
occasionally hired him to come and expose my bureaucrats to what 
lobbying in the legislature and in the governor's office was all about. 
We'd actually enter into a contract with him. 

So I picked him up and brought him out to the campus. Just 
walking from the parking lot to the class he had to stop and rest--he 
was having heart problems then he had a whole personal 1 ife 
Morr i s ; That's what we were told. 

Huf f ; Disaster with his wife, and that's a whole sad story in 
itself. And his children and everything. Well, I delivered him home 
after class. He never showed to his Monday class. Finally a friend went 
to check, and he had died in his apartment sometime between Thursday 
night and Monday morning. 
Morr i <=, : That's a shame. 

Huff ; And this is the classic one [photo] of Cyr [ Coper t i n i ]. It's 
the best picture I've ever seen of her. So, if you want to use that-- 
Mor r i s : Yes, please. What a lot of energy, and good humor. And 

Huf f ; Oh, yes. Those who didn't know her, but were asked to describe 
her would refer to her as that little Italian girl if they knew her 
name. The problem is her maiden name is Mullens, and she's as Irish as 
Paddy's pig! And, of course, she goes back to Bill Ma lone. She was 
Mai one's secretary. That's the big continuity. In her cranium rests the 


institutional memory ot" the Democratic party in Cal i-fornia -for about 

f i ve decades ! 

Morr i s : I wondered it either of you would know about when Mai one was 

leader of the Democratic party. 

Hu-f -f : She was a teen age kid when she went to work -for him. And, of 

course, in her later years she said, "If I'd only known, and 

understoodhad the background..." to fully appreciate what was going 

on around her . 

Huf f ; This is the 1958 Al ameda County endorsing convention, and 

that's my older son in the front row. He's now an attorney in a law 

firm in Chicago, and a full commander in the Coast Guard Reserve. 

This is the same deal , with Pat coming into the meeting as the 
gubernatorial candidate. 

Anga Bjornson, George Rice, and John Holmdahl. Holmdahl had 
been B j or n son's student in high school --she had run for state senate 
several times before and lost back in the old days. She thought she 
'owned' the slot, but these were new times and one had to go through 
the endorsing process. All three were therefore in bitter, locked, 
head-on contest for the endorsement. Holmdahl won the endorsement, the 
primary and then went on to win the election. George Rice had cancer 
and died within a year or so, but his supporters never forgave that 
victory. Nor did Bjornson and her supporters ever forgive Holmdahl for 
turning his back on his former teacher. (Holmdahl later resigned as 
state senator for personal reasons, subsequently ran again and was 
elected and then was appointed to the District Court of Appeals by 
Jerry Brown where he still serves.) 

Morr i s: Does that kind of emotional split at the local level, carry 
over into a gubernatorial race, or a--? 

Huff ; No, "well, it affected everything just because there were 
relationships involved. 
Morr i s ! Within the East Bay"' 
Huff ; The East Bay and especially up in the legislature. Bob Cr own 

[state assemblyman] was an ardent Rice supportei and he never forgave 

Holmdahl. The one anomaly of all that was Nick. Nobody ever gets mad at 
Nick Petris exasperated, yes, but never mad. He was Crown's close 
friend, and he was Holmdahl's close friend. But I was Holmdahl "s 
treasurer, and Crown never forgave me for that. 

Holmdahl was his own worst enemy. Personality-wise he left a 
lot to be desired. That was one of those rough -tough deals. 

The Kennedy Campaign; Oakland 1959 

Morr i s: Let's talk about Kennedy. 

Huff : It was '59. I was treasurer of the party (north), and I was 

auditor-controller of Oakland. 

You know, in '59 Kennedy started his presidential effort in 
A lame da County. This was basically, before he was an announced 
candidate. Because I was auditor-controller, I was in a position to put 
together the necessary security with the police department and get the 
phones installed for the press. Once there is an announced campaign, 
the committee makes these arrangements. These days once the candidate 
becomes the nominee of the party, the Secret Serv :? steps in and takes 
over security. (In the old days, when an election was close, the Secret 
Service was the outfit to watch. When they suddenly appeared like 


apparitions around the presidential candidate, you could be pretty sure 
you had a w i nner ! > 

We provided Kennedy a motor cycle escort (I can still remember 
being squeezed between JFK and the driver [Osborne A. Pearson, 
assistant postmaster-general and later acting secretary of the Navy in 
the last six weeks of the Truman administration; and, a Holmdahl aide 
in later years] in the front seat of a borrowed Continental), set him 
up out at Mills College with a speaking engagement before the student 
body and faculty with photo opportunities for Life and other media, but 
the luncheon I emceed was a disaster that Kennedy never forgot, because 
this state was locked in pr e-conven t i on pol itical maneuvering, and at 
that point the powers that be didn't want to touch him or have him 
touched, so there was a boycott by some of the local leadership. We 
really had a respectable turnout, especially considering the 
circumstances, but it wasn't a jam, and Kennedy didn't 1 ike that. 
Nor r i s : Why were the Brown people boycotting Kennedy? 
Huf f i Well, nobody had made their decision on a presidential 
candidate in '59. This was way premature. From this perspective it's 
hard to remember that he was not really a heavy duty national figure at 
the time. We were just suiting up and everyone wanted to keep their 
options open, especially if it was decided that the governor should be 
the favor i te son . 

Morr i s : Right, but didn't you want to take a look at him, and see 
whether you might want to? 

Huff ; There was a lot of jockeying going on. I can't remember all 
the details. I know Larry O'Brien came out --you know who Larry O'Brien 
i s? 

Morr i s : He was party chairman at that point. 

Huff : Well, he wasn't at that time, this was before then. At the 
time he was just a Kennedy staffer, but later became his campaign 
manager. I remember going to dinner with him, just the two of us, in 
San Francisco, and his whole goal was to pump me in terms of where 
everybody was vis-a-vis Kennedy. I spent the entire evening giving him 
the San Francisco tour which I had developed for people. Every time he 
asked a pointed question, I would point up to the Co i t Tower, or some 
other landmark. I spent the whole night not giving him any satisfaction 
at all without out-and-out stiffing him. 

Morr i s : Was Jesse Unruh [former speaker of the assembly; currently 
California state treasurer] at that point ready to throw in with 
Kennedy ? 

Huf j ; No, that was preliminary, this was before all that. Nobody- 
real ly knew what they wanted to do, and, of course Brown that was, I 
think, the thing the question whether Brown wanted to be --or should 
be a favorite son, which he had been before C'52]. They hadn't made 
that judgment, and, of course, people were having trouble, were 
agonizing over whether they wanted to support Kennedy or not because of 
the rel igious issue. There was a lot of mental anguish going on. Then 
there was a slew of candidates, you know. 

Morr i s; Right. [Estes] Kefauver was still around, and [Hubert] 
Humphr ey . 

Huff : Ye s , and [ S t u ar t ] Sym i n g t on , an d , of c our se , [ Lyn don ] Jon n son . 
Everybody and his brother. That convention's delegate slate for 
California was deliberately put together in a balanced manner so that 
everybody felt they were fairly represented, all the various 
presidential leading contenders that is, so they wouldn't come in to 


the Cal i-fornia arid make a bloody primary out of it. It was to keep 
everybody out. And that's what weakened the delegation. It was a 
brill i an t move, but Broun always carried the onus that he had a 
delegation that he couldn't control. Well, it was designed that way. I 
was one o-f the Kennedy delegates. (I'm a member of a select group -from 
the 1956 convention who were Humphrey supporters for vice president but 
couldn "' t stomach another round o-f- Kefauver when HHH [Humphrey] -folded, 
so voted -for Kennedy -for the vice presidential nomination.) 
Mor r i s ; So that when they got to the convention they could vote 
proportionately, according to candidate strength? 

Hu_f_f : No. The purpose was to keep the contenders out o-f Cal i-fornia 
in the primaries, because they -felt that would do a lot o-f damage to 
everything else they were trying to do. That was the main goal , but 
then, by the time we got down to Los Angeles, the convention was chaos. 
You know, Adlai Stevenson was there as another unknown factor. 
Nor r i s : Th a t ' s r i gh t . 

Huff ; You had afl the old Stevenson loyalists, of which I was one. 
My personal view of Stevenson was that he contributed more to the 
nation by losing in '52 and '56 than Eisenhower ever did as a sitting 
president, despite the current revisionism underway on Ike's behalf. 
Mor r i s ; In terms of getting people involved, and participation--? 
Huf f ; Involved and motivated and inspired, plus identifying the 
problems of the times, as well as articulating proposed solutions. In 

' : '56 I v was following Stevenson around in the Bay Area in various 
capacities, including chauffer ing him from the San Francisco Airport to 
the Fairmont in an open car. I saw him revising his speeches. He kept 
staff up all night, and a speech was never set. It drove the press 
crazy, it drove the staff crazy. At six. o'clock one morning, he was 
still doing revisions, and in those days they still had to cut stencils 

j and run them off . 

Morr i s ; In order to get the text to the press? 

Huff ; Yes, the practicalities. Of course, presidential candidates 
typically give the same canned speech and just drive everybody crazy 
the other way with the media and campaign staff listening to the same 
tired, old speech. (Reagan is still delivering The Speech!) The 
'working' press is basically lazy. That's why Hubert Humphrey was 
always in trouble too, because he wouldn't follow his text. 
Mor r i s ; So he'd say something, and the press would be quoting 
some thing el se? 

Huff ; Yes, and they hated that. A final footnote on Stevenson. I 
believe he still holds the all time record for being the only 
presidential candidate in the history of the country who ever said 
anything during his campaigns that was worth preserving. 

Oh, here's Judge Gar a. That must be a name you've run 
acr oss . 

Morr i s : San Fr an c i sc o . 

Huff : Yes, Gerald O'Gara [(D) 14th S.D., 47-553. He was always my 
favorite state senator back in the good old days before he became a 
judge . 

Mor r i s ; Now, why was he your favorite senator? 

Huff : I don't know, just because of his style. He was always a 
gentleman, and he was never pushy, never had an exaggerated sense of 
who he was, and always remembered my name to this day (or at least 
within the last year or so). For ego stroking purposes, the latter is a 
pretty good reason all by itself! 


And I have my Joe Know land story - my personal story [Jos. R. 
Know land. Publisher, the Oakland ( Cal I -f orn I a) Tribune and -father of 
former Senator William F. Kn owl and - both deceased]. 

I was the -first person appointed to the A lame da County 

Institutions Commission after the County Board of Supervisors changed 
their pol icy and decreed that one person could only serve two terms. So 
somebody died, or their eligibility to continue to serve ended under 
the new rule, and here I was, this young, not-dry-beh i nd-the-ear s-guy 
(in terms of knowledge and experience in the public health field) in 
his late thirties. 

Nor r i s ; Are you auditor yet, or are you still a private citizen? 
Huff : The appointment preceded by several months my being city- 
auditor -con trol 1 er , but my actual service was primarily in that 
capacity. These guys had been on the commission since the year I was 
born (literally), including Joe Know land. So I was the new guy on the 
block. I attended several meetings - they were monthly luncheon 
meetings at Highland Hospital, the old county hospital. 

I had noticed that Joe came in his chauffered limousine. The 
poor chauffeur sat out in the car for two hours waiting for him. City 
hall was just a few blocks from the Tribune Tower, so one day I said to 
Joe, "Why don '' t I pick you up and and deliver you, rather than having 
the car wa i t?" 

He agreed, so I did. I never was really sure he knew who I 
was, until one day we were driving down eleventh street, which is 
one -way, and stopping at Br oadway--you have to go around the block to 

drive in front of the Tribune Towei and he nodded, and pointed down 

toward Jack London Square. My predecessor tw i ce -removed [as 
auditor-controller] had been a coalyard operator, and his coal yard had 
been located at the foot of Broadway. That was the first time, I was 
really sure that he knew who I was. 

One time this ties in with Houlihan [John Charles Houlihan, 
first a councilman, then mayor of Oakland, later sent to jail for 
embezzling his attorney's trust fund] --the Tr i bune had decided to 
endorse Houlihan for mayor, and Knowl and told me that, driving back 
from Highland. This was a major slip in the newspaper game. By the time 
I got back to City Hall , parked my car and was in my office. Know land's 
secretary was on the line, and she said, Mr. Knowl and revealed a 
confidence which he should never have done, and asked me to keep that 
confidence. (It was still about three days away before they were going 
to publish the endorsement.) He might die, or whatever. So I said, 
sure. I never broke that confidence. 

Joe was pretty old in those days. He would sit at the 

meetings, and would doze off, but if anything came up of interest to 
him as matters droned along it was all done by rote; the administrator 
r an ever y thing, and e v e r y thing was c on f i r me d u n an i mou sly. Th ere had 
never been a -'no'' vote cast in the history of the commission, as I 
later determined. If Joe was interested in an item, his eyes would pop 
open, and the minute he showed any interest, everything else would 
stop, so he could have his say. 

The first really interesting thing that came up was the first 
go-round when the proposed budget was presented by this administrator, 
who was an old bureaucrat. He''s got this document in front of him. We 
don't have copies of it. He's presenting it and asking the commission 
to approve the budget. 
Nor r i s ; Of course. 



Hjjf_f : I'm sitting there, and, you know, how am I going to cope with 
this? I voted "no" --the -first -'no'' in the history of the commission, I 
was later told I don't know i f that's literally true. And I explained 
my vote. I said, "I can't vote -for something that I haven't seen. In 
good conscience I can't do that." 

There was a stunned silence. The administrator, who had jowls, 

,i and he literal! y-- 
Mor r i s ; Would that be Dr. Wh i tecot ton? 

Huff ; Wh i tecot ton , that's the one. His jowls went like a turke> he 

went purple, red, white. I thought he was going to have apoplexy and 

,die right on the spot. Well, what they did was unprecedented. They 

'\ created an executive committee of the commission, made me chairman of 
the executive committee, and handed me the budget. 
Morr i s : Good heavens! 

Huff; So I took this document awa> 1 didn't have anybody to work 

with and I went through that thing, and I really had trouble making 

' heads or ta i 1 s of it. 

Morr i s ; And you're about to be city auditor? 

Huff i I was the city auditor-controller by that time. But I just had 
real trouble understanding it. I finally went to Earl Strathman [county 
administrative officer], and told him, "I just spent umpteen hours 
trying to analyze this thing, and it just doesn't look right, but I 
don't have the staff to analyze it in depth." He took that budget and 
literally threw it in the wastebasket. His staff prepared the budget 
that year for the county institutions! 
Morr i s ; That's what you call zero-base budgeting! 
Huf f : [laughs] That's my whole story on Joe Know land. 
Morr i s ; Well, he too is a kind of t he -end-of-t he-era figure. 
Huff ; I had a theory there. You know, they used to talk about the 
'Know land machine', and there really wasn't a Kn owl and machine at al 1 . 
These cats that were on the city council were really incompetent, the/ 
were just terrible people. The joke used to be, you know, any time they 
voted they had to look over at the Tribune Tower and see whether the 
shade was pulled up or down. I finally concluded that they were 
second-guess i nq they had no direct orders or knowledge what they 
thought Old Man Joe wanted. In his later years he was a vicious 

son-of-a-gun earliei but in his later years he was very mellow. He was 

writing his memoirs, and all that kind of business. 

And just, from the little exposure that I had, I was convinced 
that his philosophy and views on issues weren't anywhere near as harsh, 
or conservative, or reactionary, as the people that were executing 
pol i cy--they thought in his name. 

Morr i s ! They were interpreting what they thought he wanted without 
bothering to ask him? 

Huf f ; Right, or anybody. It's kind of an interesting thing, and it 
happens often. It happens in state government all the time. Everybody's 
always second-guessing what they think the governor's position is, and 
they'll extrapolate from some other issue. 

Morr i s ; They take what they think the governor's position is, and go 
forth and say, I am doing this because the governor wants me to? 
Huff ; Oh, yes. That's a great game. 
Mor r i s ; Let's go back now, and 

We've wandered all over the place. 

Well, its fascinating, and gives me some marvelous insight 
into what was going on. 



The Early Years 

Morr i s ; I ' d like to go back to the beginning and ask, how you happened 
to pick the Bay Area when you got out of the service and had a new 
wife, and it you came with an interest in ? 

Huff : No--my wife [Anne M. Huff] had never been west of Chicago. Ue 
were engaged twice. She was a little Quaker girl from a suburb of 
Newark [New Jersey]. I met her in the fall of 1940 at Antioch [College, 
Yellow Springs, Ohio]. She was a transfer student from Earl ham College, 
a small Quaker college near the Indiana-Ohio border. The first time I 
mentioned going to California, she just about froze mentally at the 
very thought. When she went to Earl ham from high school, her picture of 
Indiana was of buffaloes, cowboys, and Indians. And, of course, in her 
mind, if one went further west, it would just be worse! 

I don't know what it was. I '' d lived in California three times, 
i n term i t ten 1 1 y 

Morr i s ; As a youngster growing up? 

Huff ; Yes, and that was where I wanted to be. The specific thing 
that brought me here was, I had, after the war started let's see 
everything reminds me of something else. I was in the maritime service. 
I joined in September of '41. I went in the Naval reserve in November 
of '41, just a month before the war broke out. So we were on this 
training ship, the war came along, and they had us take our ship down 
to St. Petersburg [FLA] no guns, white ship, the whole Atlantic coast 
lit up, you know. They [German subs] were sinking tankers. They were 
very selective they didn-'t sink empty tankers, they waited for loaded 
ones, coming the other way. We actually sighted a periscope. A sub 
stuck its nose up and decided that we weren't worth the torpedo. 

Well, I had quit college, which is a whole story in terms of 
how I was motivated to finish college after the war. My accounting 
professoi he was my adviser did everything to try to persuade me not 
to quit at the end of my first year of college. He said, "You know the 
odds against you ever going back and finishing college after one year- 
are extremely high. Stick it out for two years, and then leave. Your 
chances are better." 

Well , it was a money question Antioch was very expensive and 
I was going well , that was another question. I'd won some money, and 
that helped quite a bit on this. I had won a car at the New York 
World's Fair [1940], and sold it. Never drove it. But anyway, I just 
wanted out, and I wanted to go to sea. My dad had wanted me to go to 
the Naval Academy. I didn't want to go the Naval Academy. My joining 
the Naval reserve was kind of a sop to him. 

But I really attribute that fact that I went back to college 
and got a degree to that challenge by Professor Magruder . I had to 
prove that he was wrong. It's kind of an interesting thing. I had 
applied for, and was admitted to King's Point, the Merchant Marine 
Academy, so rather than coming up through the deck, you go to the 
academy, and in umpteen months you're a 1 i censed officer. Well , I got 
there, and after about four months, I had a 4.0 average, but the place 
was in total chaos, and here I am nineteen years old, and I just 


couldn't tolerate sitting there in that academic environment with the 
war go i no on . 

So I resigned. There were two ways you could get a [mere hart 
marine] license: sailing two years on deck gave you the required 
experience to sit -for a third mate's license; or going through what I 
considered the sterile classroom way. So I quit [school], much against 
the advice of all the wise -he ads there who tried to tell me to be 
patient. So that, again, became a challenge, because I did sail on 
deck, and that's what got me to California. I came out to California in 
'44 on my honeymoon to apply for, and got admitted to, the officer 
candidates' school in A lame da, and got my third mate's license there. 
That was in the spring of ' 45 . 

Mor r i s ; Did you at that time think that the university was near 
A lame da, and you would pick up the other courses ? 

Huff : Well, I actually took some correspondence courses at sea. 
Let's see, how did that work? I made a trip before I applied to DCS. 
Yes, that's it. I came out in June of '44, middle of June, and sailed 
within ten days. Came out with a brand new wife. We arrived about a 
month after Libby CGatov] and her then husband [Fred Smith]. We stayed 
at a hotel down on Geary, one block from the theaters, at the Fielding 
Hotel. Stayed there three daysthat was the wartime imposed 
limit then found a place over in Oakland, an old 'Jictorian that had 
belonged to a vice president of the Bank of America [Frank Belgrano, 
1132 7th Avenue, since demolished]. It had been remodeled into wartime 
housing apartments. 

I made one trip to the South Pacific, came back, applied for 
school , and had several weeks to wait. It was in those weeks that I 
worked at a shipyard [Kaiser, Richmond]. That's when I belonged to the 
electrical workers [union], wiring as an electrician's assistant, or 
whatever they called them in those days. But on that trip I signed up 
and took an economics course, from university extension [DC, Berkeley]. 
You know, just trying to keep my hand in. We had a lot of time at sea. 

And that was my game plan. I had decided that to be in 
pel i tics, I had to have some kind of bread and butter ticket, and I 
decided accounting was it. 

Mor r i s : You didn't plan to stay in the merchant marine, ever? 
Huff ; I can't say that, but Anne didn't want me to. 
Mor r i s : I see . 

Hut f : I had to make that judgment. I was a second mate shortly after 
the war was over. 

Mor r i s : You mentioned that your wife was the first one to have an 
official Democratic party position. Did the two of you take up politics 
toge ther ? 

Huff ; Basically, except that she was here, and I was away. I was 
only here intermittently, and when she hit here in June of "44 she was 
disenfranchised no absentee vote in New Jersey, and she had to have a 
year residence in Cal ifornia in those days. She wanted to make up for 
it, so she was going to gather every vote she could to make up for the 
lack of her own vote. So she became quite the political activist. She 
was the first one to hold a party position. She worked for an assembly 
candidate who won the nomination over in the City of Alameda. Our 
little piece of Oakland was in that district. Because of her work and 
where he lived, she was appointed to the state central committee. It 
was by virtue of that, in '43, that she sat on the platform when Truman 
came to Lakeside Park. He came to the park because nobody had any money 


to rent a hall. There was a transit strike underway, which should have 

discouraged anybody -from coming; a lot o-f people still didn't have 

automobiles. Some 25,000 peope managed to get to that park to hear 

Harry Truman. That was the -first overt sign we had that his candidacy 

had something going -for it. 

Nor r i s ! That there were Democrats out there looking -for something to 

be involved in. 

Huff ; Despite--you know, everything you read in the paper, why, he 

didn't have a prayer. He was having trouble getting enough money to get 

his train out of the station. 

Democratic Party Activist 

Morr i s ; Did you then continue working -for Truman, in the campaign? 
Huf 4 ; Oh, yes, sure. Well, those were the days of the Independent 
Progressive Party CIPP], too, the third party movement with Henry 
Wallace, and all that kind o-f business. And there was a big split off. 
We were the Trumanites, and they were the rebels. I still remember 
being in a meeting in somebody's home, before the I PP was -formed, and 
it was part o-f the chemistry o-f the dialogue that was going on. 
Somebody bad-mouthed Eleanor Roosevelt, and that did it -for me. I got 
up, and I said, I don't want any part o-f this, [laughs] 
Morr i s ; So after the election you just stayed involved in party 
ac t i v i t i es? 

Huf f ; Yes. Well, there wasn't much going on between elections, 
because there was no on -go ing structure, anything like that. It just 
sort of all came together at election time. In 1946, Will Rogers, Jr. 
had run for the US Senate. We were active in that campaign. The state 
chairman was an Oakland type - Osborne A. Pearson. He was kind of a 
pompous character. As previously referenced, he was later assistant 
postmaster general under Truman, and in the last six weeks of the 
Truman administration, was acting secretary of the Navy. 

As the Rogers for US Senate chairman, he threw Ronald Reagan 
off the committee for being a commie I [laughs] Years later, as 
governor, Ronald Reagan appointed him to the World Trade Commission. 
Pearson wound up being Holmdahl's field man. Pearson was one of those 
guys who could tell stories, and had political sceneries that would 
make your hair stand on end. 

Morr i s ; Roger Kent says he became aware of you and who was your 
cohort Martin Rot hen berg , when you came and volunteered to tidy up, or 
improve the state-- 

Huf f ; Yes, I don't remember how all that came about. It just sort of 
happened, I guess. 

Morr i s ; Tell me about Martin Rothenberg. Did you and he spend time 
together thinking of 

Huf f ; Well, he was a congressional district co-chairman in Contra 
Costa, and I was in Al ameda County, and we were about the same age. He 
later became a superior court judge. I think he's probably retired by 
now, or thinking of it, if he hasn't. He was [state committee] 
secretary at the time I became aud i tor-con tr ol 1 er . In the year- 
following my appointment I would have to stand for election, so I 
stepped down as party treasurer and he took my place. 


Appointment as Oakland Aud i tor -Con tr ol 1 er . 1958 

Hu-f -f ; I was appointed that's a whole story, in itself, of a 
political operation. But I had a period there where I thought I'd 
better be super non-par t i san until I was elected. So I got off as 
treasurer of the northern committee and Rothenberg succeeded me. I then 
succeeded him, after he, kind of, took the interregnum for me. 

MX appointment [as auditor-controller] was a classic political 
maneuver --the incumbent had died in office. This was in Max of 1 95S , 
and we were busx. We had [Nicholas] Petris running for assembly, and 
Pat Brown running for governor, and all that going. And I had been 
planning to run for auditor-controller that was my political ambition 
at the time. He would be up in the next odd year--' 59--and that was 
going to be my fledgling run for political office. So he died, and I 
threw my hat in the ring. The citx charter gave the council the 
authority to make the appointment to fill the unexpired term. 

Well, this is almost a story-book thing. Petris, and Holmdahl, 
and several others and I all went to this fellow's funeral [David 
Rosen]. After the funeral, we stood in the alley outside the funeral 
home and plotted how I could get the appointment. Holmdahl was a city 
councilman at that time [and running for the Democratic nomination for 
state senator], Petris was sign if cant, too. He was running for the 
Democratic assembly nomination in our district, and I was his campaign 

manager the primary election was only a few days away. Petris was 

connected with a fellow Greek on the city counc i 1 --Pe te Tr i pp . Pete had 
control of a couple of votes. Well, the inside candidate was one of 
their fellow councilman, who was an accountant. But these councilman 
hadn't read the city charter. It saidflat out that no one could be 
--pointed to a city position within two years of service on the 
counc i 1 . 

They didn't know that, we did. And on the strength of that, we 
put together a second string committment: that if the vote failed for 
their favorite candidate, I would get their votes. This meant on paper 
we had it locked in. One of the councilman who should have voted for me 
d i dn ' t--Anne had worked on his campaign because he didn't believe it 
cou 1 d happen . 

My senior partner in our CPA firm an old, reactionary 
Re pub 1 ican-~ was getting ready to go to lunch when I sat down to 
explain to him what was going on j that the council was about to meet in 
executive session to determine who was going to get the appointment. I 
told him it was a long shot, but that he ought to know that if I was 
appointed, I was going to accept. 

The other thing that worked in my favor was that Mayor 
[Clifford] Rishell had to leave town to go back east to a conference, 
and the city payroll was due. There was nobody to sign the payroll . So 
they were right up against it, and I think it was the Friday before the 
primaries, something like that. So it was by written secret ballot, 
after the city attorney in executive session read the charter to them, 
to their astonishment, there they were with their candidate down the 
tubes. And, of course, we didn't know this was a case of whether their 
political word was worth anything, because these were Republicans, you 
k n ow . 

It held. I got six votes. Rishell voted for somebody else, the 
guy who should have voted for me abstained [Bob Osbornel, and the ninth 
person voted for somebody else. So I got six of the nine votes. Our CPA 


office was right there, at 14th and Broadwayso our watcher just 
walked across the 1 ittle park there, and came over and got me I was 
sitting in my office without lunch. I walked across the street, was 
sworn in, and when mx partner came back from lunch, I was already the 
auditor-controller, and he'd lost a partner. (A footnote: the 'watcher' 
who came for me, also had managed to purloin the ballot papers and gave 
them to me . I kept them for years as a memento, but finally threw them 
out . ) 

My chief deputy had been in city service longer than I'd been 
al i ve , and that was kind of traumatic. 

Mor r i s : Were there some new ideas in accounting that you thought could 
be applied to public administration and politics, or was it the other 
way around? 

Huf f ; I don't know that I'd call them new ideas, except that the 
city was behind the times, let's put it that way. Under my leadership, 
we were awarded the certificate of conformance from the Municipal 
Finance Officers' Association of the United States and Canada. You had 
to meet certain standards for the annual report. The city had never 
even tried, as a matter of fact, and after I left they lost the 
certificate because they didn't get the report out on time. 

It was a question of meeting national accounting standards set 
for municipalities, and also the timeliness of the report, the 
formatting of it, and a lot of different things. I learned a lot at the 
city. I only had a staff of about forty-five. Everybody had been in 
their slots since the year one. All divisions were small, and the 
division chiefs each had their little fiefdoms it was pretty tough to 
break it. I worked on it the soft way for a long time, and then one day 
I just announced that I was going to rotate division chiefs. I thought 
the City Hall was going to crack right open. One of my great 
experiences a few months after that a division chief was in 
explaining a problem and giving his perspective as to the solution. 
Suddenly there was this silence, he was looking down at the rug, and he 
finally looked up at me, and he had a kind of haunted look in his eyes. 
He said, "You know, if I were still in the other position, I would have 
given a totally different recommendation!" He suddenly understood what 
it was all about in terms of a change in perspective. 
Mor r i s ; What was it that you hoped to accompl i sh when you took on 
being treasurer of the state Democratic committee? 

Huff ; It really wasn't any lofty thing. The position had always been 
held by a finance type of person, you know, moneybags, so it had always 
been kind of a titular thing. And there were very poor reports, or 
none. So one objective was that I thought that the committee members 
were entitled to a formal, written report on the financial 
condition that was one innovation. 

The other sort of just evolved. We had the pledges from the 
various counties to try to contribute each month toward the overhead, 
the rent, and minimum staff. This was in lieu of relying on one or two 
heavy angels big time business types which gave the operation much 
more stability and continuity, and made it less subject to special 
interests. By prudent management we did something I hadn't thought of 
it as a deliberate goal at the time --we developed a credit rating. We 
had cr ed i t-- 
Morr i s; C laughs] 

Huff ; Well, that's just like having working capital. 
Mor r i s ; That means you can got to the bank and get a loan? 


Huff ; Not so much a loan at the bank, but with printers, and we 

could actually order work without paying for it up front. Well, the old 

game before and since has always been cash on the barrelhead, because 

political organizations don't pay their bills. 

Mor r i s : I thought it was the rule in politics. 

Huf f : It is the rule. That's the only exception I know. We actually, 

because of a long period of paying our bills, gradually developed a 

credit status which was destroyed [later] in a matter of months. 

Because nobody else ever really cared, and they just manipulated things 

by not paying bills. It's a very fragile plant [credit] that has to be 

nourished all the time. 

Mor r i s : How regular were the county organizations in paying their 

p 1 edges? 

Huff ; Irregular, well , some of them were regular. But there were 

enough of them, and the allotment in gross was more than we needed, so 

that if s. third, or forty percent of them came through, we could squeak 

by. And enough would come through erratically. You know, you'd hear 

! from some place up in the boonies that you hadn't heard from for a 

while [they] would come in with some money. 
Mor r i s ; Would they make up past payments, or would they just send 

.whatever the y had in the 

Huf f : No, they'd just send whatever they could. Some might make it 
bu t a smal 1 

Nobody took i t as a committment, that every month we have to 

A few did. They were the exceptions. But there were some real 
eager-beavers. Of course, that might last for a while, and that 
would burn out when the people changed. That's the price of 
v o 1 u n t e e r i sm . 

State Party Organization. North and South 

Mor r i s; How about southern California? Roger [Kent] seems to have been 
worried about 

Huf f ; That was a different ball game down there. Different brand of 
politics, different ambience, everything. Northern California sort of 
belonged to itself, and southern California was--we always considered 
it a political jungle. And I think the difference was that the L i bby 

Gatovs, the Kents, the Dempseys, and everybod> they weren't out for 

anything. They weren't seeking something for themselves. They didn't 
want power, or ambition, or position, they were just workers in the 
vineyards. Down south everyone was maneuvering for power and position. 
It was just the name of the game. 

I can still remember Jesse Unruh when he was speaker of the 
Assembly attending an executive committee meeting of the state central 
committee and fighting as hard a battle for votes as to where the next 
meeting was going to be as he did for major bills in the Assembly. He 
just had to win everything. Winning was the name of the game, at any 

Morris: Well, he was the most visible person from the legislature at 
that point. How about southern California party chairmen? 
Huf f : It would depend on who it was, and of course well, let's see. 
Bill Munnell had it once, and he was a legislator. Legislators made 
poor party officials: they didn't have the time, their scenarios were 


different, and they had entanglements and committments that got in the 
wax. They just were not the right people. Liz Snyder , to this day, I 
have alwa>s thought she was one of our better cha i r men --and of course 
she went back to the early days, back be -fore the party really had 
developed any strength. But she was kind o-f an exception. I always- 
thought those southern people were a motley sort. 
Morr i s ; Was there an equivalent to the 212 gang in southern 
Cal i f or n i a? 

Huf_f ; No, there was never the same operation. They didn't have that 
continuity. There was the whole cross-filing problem, and that goes 
back to Hiram Johnson [governor, 1911-173, that practically insured 
that there would be no strong party system. It just was subversive to 
that. One of the real strengths for northern California was the fact 
that we had--pre-one man, one vote--had all these senators up in the 
boonies. You know the State Constitution said that in dividing up the 
forty senators each must represent a county, but in the case of the 
smaller counties a senator could represent up to three counties, 
regardless of population. So as you divided all these boony counties 
up, we in northern California had senators com i ng out our ears, while 
Los Angeles had but one senator. 

It wasn't right, but the politics of it was that, through the 
special election process, whenever some opening came along, you threw 
all your workers and all your money in there. Gradually, one by one, we 
would win these seats in the assembly and in the senate, but the key 
was the senate. Pretty soon you had it. You could hold it, and they 
were not beholden the same way. 

You know, the Stan Arnolds, the Joe Rattigans, the Uirgil 
'Sul 1 i vans, the George Miller, Jrs., and the Steve Teales. They were 
kind of the key -five; they had their own way of playing the game. I 
remember AB 80-- 

Morr i s ; They were the result of your special election work?--or were 

Huf f : Some of them were. George Miller [father of the present Contra 
Costa Congressman] preceeded it, but Stan Arnold was one of the 
products of it. Arnold was head of the alphabet, when you called the 
rol 1 . So al 1 Arnold had to do was know how to vote, and al 1 anybody 
else had to do was watch Arnold, and they knew where to go. 

Working with the Legislature 

Morr i s ; This was in a state committee meeting? 

Huf f ; No, the state legislature, we're in the legislature now, down 

to real produc t i ve-- 

Mor r i s : Down to p r odu c t i v e -- 

Huf f ; That's right. I ran into that buzz saw on AB 80 [property tax 

assessment reform], trying to sell a bill on behalf of Pat Brown 

[governor, 1959-67]. These five guys would sit around and decide who 

had the least interest in the bill, and that was the one that would be 

assigned to be their spokesperson. It made it very difficult to get at 

them, because any time we wanted to talk about AB 30 we always ended up 

talking to 0' Sullivan. He didn't know two-bits about the bill, he 

didn't care anything about it, and anything you said was just like 

talking to the wall. They were just tough to crack when they played 

that game. It was great when it was for you, but it was tough when it 


was aga i ns t you . 

Mor r i s : Particularly if you'd wor k e d w i t h t h em on both sides. 
Huff : Right. 

Morr i s ; So once you'd worked out the strategy, and started picking up 
Democrats in the special elections, then those duly elected senators 
would become the basis for a local organization? 

Huf f ; Yes and no. It varied, depending on the district. Again, 
whenever you won, things tended to become more personal than 
organizational, which is just part of the price you pay. Suddenly it 
isn't just the organization per se . it's that guy's organza t ion. We ran 
u p against it i n Ge or ge P . Miller [ U . S . Re p . ( D > 3th C . D . no r e 1 a t i on t o 
State Senator George Miller, Jr. or current Congressman George Miller, 
III], who got into Congress on Roosevelt's coatt; Is in ''44 had to go 
out and buy a new suit in order to run; he was a pretty darn good 
liberal . By the time he retired in his 80s he was a crotchety old 
character, but powerful. He had the space committee, and had all the 
Iwrong positions [hawk] on the Viet Nam War this type of thing. My wife 
: and he had an exchange of letters that was red hot. He was just as 
virulent as she was. 

Morr i s; The fact that you had been workers for him since his first 
campaigns didn't cut any ice? 

Huff : Not by then. Well, because that's the other thing that 
happened especially with a congressman, from the day you got elected 
you started to get more and more removed from your constituency. I 
remember a Republican, Johnny Allen, coming back after being defeated. 
He was just scared to walk down the street, because he'd been in 
communication with all these people all these years, but didn't know 
sanybody. Theoretically he knew everybody, but he really didn't know 
anybody. I remember him verbal izing that concern about coming home. 
And, of course, a lot of them never come home. They stay in Washington 
and become lobbyists this type of thing. 

Mor r i s ; Did the group of you working with Roger [Kent] do any work on 
who ought to be the candidate in the special elections? 

Huff i Sure. That's again, part of what Van [Dempsey] would be doing 
out there. He always had people in his hip pocket ready to pop up. 
That's what he loved to do, and the judgment factor in picking those 
people, I think, was as important as anything else. 
Morr i s ; Were they necessarily already active in Democratic party 
politics in their d i s t r i c t s ? 

Huf f ; Not necessarily. Of course [Richard] Graves, on a statewide 
basis, was the spectacular example he had to change registration in 
order to run for governor on the Democratic ticket [1954]. He had no 
political background, because he was the executive director of the 
League of Cal ifornia Cities. You know, he had his own brand of 
politics, but he'd never been involved in partisan politics. In 
hindsight, I'm not sure he was a good selection, for a lot of reasons. 

Unw i n n ab 1 e Elections 

Mor r i s : Graves said that it was the greatest thing that ever happened 

in the world, in terms of his personal 1 i f e , it was time to get out of 

what he was doing. 

Huff : Right. 

Morr i s : What better way than to lose a political campaign? 


Hutf: But he didn't have any real grounding, in terms o-f partisan 

pel i tics. 

Morr i s : He's wondered whether or not he was talked into running 

because Pat Brown decided that the election was not winnable that year. 

Hu-f f : I think that was a major consideration, sure. 

Morr i s ; So would there be times when the people in the deciding group 

would say, we're not going to work very hard -for this. We're going to, 

you know-- 

Hu-f -f ; I assure you there was almost every condition in terms o-f the 

local races. But one o-f the basic rules that you 1 earn--they ' re 

learning in Illinois now, and down in Orange County-- is, always have a 

viable candidate. Never be caught o-ff base. This whole LaRouche thing 

is just crazy. Even i -f you're -fighting a lost cause, you should be 

running the best candidates you can -find, and talk into going. 

It's the 'dripping water on the stone' principle, and the 
'moss doesn't grow on a rolling stone' principle. You know, we worked 
in the 15th assembly district. We ran some candidates that weren't the 
greatest, but they were the best we could -find. They broke their picks. 
It wasn't until Petris came along that we won-- and that was a 
combination o-f a good candidate plus incumbent Luther Lincoln not 
runn i ng-- 

Morr i s : There had been reappor t i onmen t , redist Meting, there at that 

Hu-f -f ; Fi-fty--no, reappor t i onmen t had been back in '52 [controlled by 
the Republicans], this was '58. But we'd been beating at him, and I 
guess he'd just decided he'd had enough. So it all went together. The 
[Goodwin] Kn i gh t-[W i 1 1 i am] Kn owl and switch lined everything up. No one 
fully realized it at the time, because you can't put all that together- 

Morr i s : That seems to be kind o-f the message that you were trying to 
develop, and Roger [Kent] was trying to develop, that you've got to 
have some continuity. 

Hu-f -f ; Continuity. You've got to have a door open, and a presence, 
and stability, and resources that you can tap, and bring in shock 
troops on a -fast basis. It works. 

Morr i s ; How much time did this take? Here you were with a responsible 
job in Oakland, and you're still active in district politics, and at 
the state c omm i 1 1 e e level. 

Huff ; It was worse than that. When I stood in that graduating -field 
[Edwards] in Berkeley in '49, I was working -full time, 40 to 50 hours a 
week, going to school -full time, and active in politics, and had two 
kids. I was pretty close to the ragged edge. I don't think I could have 
tolerated another day. 

Fam i 1 y I ssues 

Hu-f -f ; Well, my adult children will tell you that they were neglected 

by their -father. It's true, you know, they didn't get the same kind o-f 

attention. In retrospect, I think I'd have been a di-f-ferent kind of 


Morr i s : I see in some o-f those pictures some look like ten year old 

little boys, at some o-f the ceremonial meetings. 

Hu-f i ; The older one, the one that you saw the picture o-f, he's the 

closest to being any kind o-f political activist. He [son Roger] and his 


wife [Kathy] contributed to the [Harold] Washington -for Mayor campaign 

in Chicago, and also when he ran -for congress in Hyde Park. Roger's 

first "'hands-on-' political experience was on an Antioch [College] co-op 

job [co-operative work program: part time spent on campus, part time 

spent on a job in one's -field] working -for Sen. Petris in one o-f his 

c amp a i gns . 

horr i s : So he went to Antioch, 1 ike his -father? 

Hu-f -f ; Yes, he's an Antioch graduate, and so is his wife, Kathy. He 

got his law degree at the University o-f Chicago. I think his work tor 

Petris had some in-fluence on his becoming a lawyer. He had originally 

planned to be an actuary. A New York co-op job got him out o-f that. He 

didn't like the ethics o-f the actuarial profession. 

Nor r i s : That's interesting. 

Huff ; He had this job in New York, and also the advantage of knowing 

a friend of the family who was with another actuarial firm in New York, 

and was able to compare the two, and came to the conclusion that it 

w a s n ' t f o r him. 

Morr i s : Does this mean that you were in the office in San Francisco 

once a month, once a week? 

Hu f f : It would depend on the season. A lot of the time it was 

weekends. Sometimes it was at night, during the week, depending on the 

Dollars for Democrats campaign going on, why you'd scratch over there 

as soon as you could. Sometimes it was late hours. 


The Ken n e dy Election 

Huff ; I always forget that we have to take ourselves back to before 
the time Kennedy was a national figure. From this perspective it's hard 
to remember. But at that time he was a young senator with no 
legislative record to speak of, a father with a dubious Democratic 
political past, to say the least he'd attained his wealth from bootleg 
1 i quor , and all that . 

Senator Kennedy had been out here after the '56 convention at 
a major fund raiser, and his speech was an absolute flop. He was not 
prepared, it didn't go over, and everybody was muttering about it. So 
there was all that, plus the fact that there let's see, it had to be 
at least Symington, Humphrey, Johnson, Kennedy, Stevenson and a couple 
of other miscellaneous 

Horr i s ; Was Kefauver still in the picture? 

Huf f ; He may have been talked about, but he wasn't viable. At that 
point there wasn't any front runner, there wasn't anybody who really 
jumped out as a recognizable national candidate. Plus the Catholic 
i s s u e 

Morr i s: Was that particularly strong in San Francisco? 

Huff ; I don't know whether it was strong as far as the merits of the 
problem. I think it was a concern because of just trying to noodle the 
politics of it. Is this going to become a political liability that you 
can't override? That really wasn't resolved until the Texas ministers 
confrontation by Kennedy, well into the campaign. 

Morr i s: So what you're saying, is that in '59, from California's point 
of view, he didn't really look yet like a seasoned, national candidate. 

Huf f : Right. Plus we had our own internal political problems, and 

the question as to whether we wanted to have a "-favorite son" candidate 

hadn't been resolved which would have been Pat Brown, of course. Then, 

as the thing emerged, what really happened-- i n those days, delegations 

were selected on a very controlled basis, and normally they were 

selected to support whoever the candidate--. As a matter o-f -fact, Brown 

was our "-favor i te son" , and normal ly it would have been 100X Brown 

supporters. But this delegation was very care-fully selected and 

balanced, so that every candidate that had any potential of coming into 

the state had a fair representation, and wouldn't come into the state. 

The whole purpose was to keep all the candidates out, and to prevent a 

blood bath that would tear the party up. 

Morr i s ; In the primary. 

Huf f ; Yes, and as a result you had a delegation you couldn't 

control. But it was selected purposely to do that. 

Morr i s ! To not be able to control it? 

Huf f : Yes. 

Morr i s ; Now that doesn't sound logical . I thought the idea was to 

control the delegation. 

Huff ; I know. Normally it is. I don't know of any precedent for this 

kind of an operation. And Brown got a bum rap because he couldn't 

control a delegation that his people had selected purposely to 

accomplish a specific objective. 

Morr i s : It was Pat Brown's idea, rather than Roger Kent's, or Don 

Bradl ey's? 

Huff ; No, no, not Pat Brown's idea, he was just a figurehead. No it 

was Roger, Don, Libby and the other leadership people. That was a 

strategic move, and very important to the pol itical well being of the 

par ty in Cal i f orn i a . 

M o r r i s ; So that at that point the concern was more party internal 

tensions, rather than backing a winner in the national 

Huff : Right, because nobody knew who the winner was going to be, and 

nobody was really prepared for that. That was the whole approach. But 

going in, when we finally got to Los Angeles [site of the '60 

convention], of course all the Brown people were for Kennedy. Oh, 

Stevenson was in the act too, I forgot about that. I still remember 

Eleanor [Roosevelt] standing up there with her as a UN ambassador, she 

was somewhat constrained, and was supposed to be non-par t i san big 

Stevenson button, as she spoke before the convention [laughs], 

Morr i s ; How was the delegation put together? Was that put together by 

the state central c omm i 1 1 e e ? 

Huf f ; No, no, there's a tight little organizing commit tee, approved 

by the candidate, that puts it together. In fact, I don't even remember 

who was i nvol ved . 

Morr i s ; Regardless of the local district caucuses, and things like 


Huff s We 1 1 , see that all --I'm trying to go back to '60 now. Its 

emerged a lot differently in later years. At that time, I think it was 

split. I think there were some that were locally selected, and then 

some that were selected by the committee. I think it was a two-way 

deal . I just don't remember the specifics of the mechanics. They keep 

playing around with it every four years, and it's hard to keep track. 

I'm not sure they've ever improved the system. 

Nor r i s ; Later on I'd 1 ike to ask you about the "McGovern reforms," and 

whether you could see them coming, or whether they came as a big 


surprise, the move -for 

H_u_f_f : I wasn't deeply involved then, so I wasn't in any inside I'd 

just say, in retrospect, they haven't proven to be the great 

breakthrough that they were touted to be at the time. 

Mprr i s i Back in 1960, were the people that were making the 

recommendations -for who should be delegates concerned about minor ~=, 

and women, and ethnics, and 

Hut't' ! Oh, yes, there's always been an attempt to provide that kind 

of balance. That's been going on -for almost as long as I can remember. 

Of course you had what I call the phoney balancing o-f the women in the 

law, where the state central committee had to be f i i ty-f i f ty . That goes 

way back. That was more pro forma, because a lot of times the regular 

member would be a -female spouse, and the alternate would be the 

husband, and the husband would be the real political power. It was 

always put together to comply with the law, not the spirit o-f it. 

Morr i s ; Didn't women protest that? 

Hu-f -f ; Well, as it emerged over time, they became a little more 

assertive, but this goes way back be-fore there was such a thing as a 

woman's issue. We're going back into the '40s, it was be -fore that. 

Morr i s : That's interesting that you say it that way, because what you 

told me last time we talked was that your wi-fe was the one that -first 

got interested. 

Huff ; Yes, but that's an individual situation, that wasn't the 

pattern o-f this thing. Yes, she was the bona -f i de member, because o-f 

her own activities. And there was a lot o-f that, but there was also the 

pro -forma type. So it was a mix. That's how Liz Snyder emerged, because 

she was a bona -f i de political operator, and the mechanism permitted 

that. But it was a mixed bag, it had both. 

Morr i s ; And a surprise when a woman turned out to have competence, and 

ideas on her own? 

Hu-f f ; Well, I don't know that it was a surprise, but she just 

floated to the top on her own merits. 

Morr i s ; In spite o-f the -fact that she had some murky connections. 

Hu-f -f : Yes. I can't remember what they were. It was always her 

husband , I think. 

Morr i s ! Her husband [Nate], and whether or not he had close ties with 

[William] Bonelli [member, State Board o-f Equalization], just at the 

point when he was leaving the state under indictment [-fled to Mexico 

and died there ] . 

Adlai Stevenson and the California Democratic Party 

Morr i s ; Since we started with '59, and Kennedy, could we go back a 
little bit, and talk about how you got involved in the California 
Democratic Council [CDC]? You said you were at Asilomar [the conference 
center at Pacific Grove where the CDC founding convention was held in 
early 1953] 

Huff ; I was a scribe. That's about the lowest form of honor you 
TooF notes, was what it amounted to. I guess the real generative factor 
was the total shock of losing in '52. The thing that sticks in my mind 
after the shock was in December of '52, not too long before Christmas. 
On a very foody night people made a pilgrimage, an actual pilgrimage, 
out to Diablo Junior College [Contra Costa County] it wasn't easy to 
qe t there, it was a narrow road with bad visibilit> to hear Wayne 



Morris CU. S. Senator, Oregon (Independent)]. People just showed up 
from everywhere. It turned into a political wake. It was a very 
emo t i on a 1 experience f or e v e r yon e there. 

At that time, it was the Democratic party under George Miller, 
Jr. [state senator] unrelated to George P., but the father of the 
present congressman and Alan Cranston. George, Jr. and Don had always 
been close --that goes way back. They were the prime movers to try to 
establish some kind of grassroots base operation. There had been a 
precedent of sorts on the Republican side. They called it the 
California Republican Assembly, and it was an endorsing mechanism to 
get around the law about the parties supposedly, not endorsing in the 
pr i mar y . 

Of course the Hiram Johnson reforms, back in 1910-12, all 
really destroyed any party strength in California, with cr oss-f i 1 i no, 
and all that. So this was a way to try to get around the defects in the 
law. Plus that defeat was the real push --everybody felt guilty that 
they didn't do enough, the whole works. 

Morr i s; There sounds like a crusading element. Uhat was it that 
motivated all of you to put in that much time? 

Huf f ; Stevenson was a very inspiring person in terms of where he was 
coming from and how he --see, he brought political campaigning to a 
level that my personal conviction is no other candidate for president 
had ever done. I'd block out Kennedy, Roosevelt, everybody. I'm not 
sure that Stevenson would have made a good president, but he inspired 
peop 1 e . 

Morr i s ! In terms of his view of government, or in terms of how you 
organ ize a political-- 

Huff ; He didn't really relate to political organizations, 
particularly. No, he inspired people in terms of what the public 
interest was all about, and politics was all about, and it's primacy in 
our whole society. Just brought it to a level that I don't think 
anybody else has ever done. 

My view of Stevenson is that he contributed more to the 

country running for president twice, than Eisenhower did serving eight 
years . 

Morr i s i And those ideas contributed to your spending your 1 ifetime in 
pol i t i cal -- 

Huff : Yes, it's helped, it was a driving force. Because it was a 
sense of ideal ism that you just don't see very often. Pol itics gets to 
be pretty humdrum, workada> 

Morr i s; It's a lot of hard work, the day-to-da> 

Huff ; Yes, a lot of p i ck-and-shove 1 type stuff, and you need the 

i nsp i rat i on . 

Morr i s : But it took six years to get the organizing conference put 

toge ther? 

Huff ; No, '53, January '53, it happened--we 1 1 , let's see, early '53 

anyway. It may not have been January that sounds a little fast for 

As i 1 omar . I don't recal 1 --I 'm not very good on the dates the first 

real endorsing convention was in time for the '54 election, and I'm not 

quite sure what the timing was. 

Morr i s ! Okay, I just got the dates wrong. Some people said that 

Cranston helped organize CDC so that in turn they would endorse him for 

statewide office. Is there legitimacy to that? 

Huff ; I'm not sure what the accurate answer is. I don't really know. 

I can just give you my impression. I'm sure his motives included his 


own desires. His focus has always been -foreign policy, so his ultimate 
ambition was to be a U. S. senator. The tact that he ended up running 
for controller was really kind of a fluke. I guess it was the only 
thing around and available this type of th i ng--because he certainly 
wasn't qualified to be controller. 

Morr i s ; I remember thinking at the time that it was odd that somebody 
that I knew of as haying foreign policy ideas-- 

Huf f : It was a joke at the time that he campaigned he's a very poor 
speaker, you know, and his style is stilted. He's improved over the 
years, but in those days he was not what I would call a good speaker. 
And when he went out to make a campaign speech for controller, the 
first couple of sentences dealt with being controller, and before ybu 
knew it, he was talking foreign pol icy! 

Morr i s; That's interesting, because in the '50s you don't think of 
people having the kind of career path plans that you read about now in 
the daily papers--that everybody must have a career plan. 

The CDC took a lot of time discussing and putting out 
positions on foreign policy matters too, didn't it? 

Huf f ; Oh, yes. Both national and foreign. We always used to laugh 
about the different types of people: the Nancy S losses [212 gang 
member, Pat Brown appointments secretary, now a documentary film 
producer based in Washington, DC], and people like that, always 
described themselves as "issues oriented"; and then there were others 
of us who, although we were interested in the issues, we weren't 
fanatics on the subject, and we were more "nuts and bolts" type people. 
My role was very mundane, I was a trustee of the council . There were 
two trustees, or three trustees. Dick Nevins [member, State Board of 
Equal i zat i on ] --no , he wasn't a trustee we were both credentials 
committee chairmen [Dick south, myself north], that's where our paths 
crossed. But my service as trustee was kind of a ministerial job that 
oversaw the financing end of it, and the job was not what I would call 
burdensome . 

Morr i s ! Less burdensome than being treasurer of the state committee? 
Huf f ; Oh, yes. Trustee was sort of an oversight position, and 
treasurer was the way I functioned it was a working position. The 
traditional way the treasurer functioned was as an oversight person, a 
fund raising type of person. 

Morris: Would you say that the CDC spent more time on issues than the 
state central committee, and things like that? 

Huff ; Yes, it's whole focus was on issues and endorsing candidates. 
Of course this created stress and strain with incumbents. They never 
really liked or appreciated the CDC. Some did. Incumbents always had 
control of the state committee through the appointment process, so that 
was another reason it was not a very effective group. How you maintain 
the right balance of tension between incumbent office-holders and party 
people,' I think, is a good quest i on--how that's brought about. 
Morr i s ; The whole idea of the Democratic party is a little nebulous. 
There is the state Democratic central committee, and it has an office 
and a legal existence, but the state central committee does not include 
all the registered voters, who may or may not turn out to work on a 
campaign or send money, is that right? 

Huff ; Well, the state central committee members are appointed by the 
office holders, plus the county committee chairmen, but then the 
executive committee is what really calls the shots, and of course the 
leadership sets the agenda and steers the executive committee. The 


executive committe is a large committee. 

Of course it involves both state legislators, constitutional 
officers, as well as, congressional incumbents. So you've got that, 
another kind o-f tension. And it includes nominees, not all o-f f ice 
holders, and back in the crossfiling days, a lot o-f times, there 
wasn't even a nominee. 

Morr i s ; Because it would be a Republican? 

Hu-f f ; A Republican could have it. So then there was a mechanism to 
designate who would f I 1 1 that slot. A lot of mixed games went on with 
that , too . 

Morr i s ; I can be 1 i eve it. The nominees are members because it's to 
them that the campaign are related? 

Hu_fi : Yes, but that's the way it's structured in the law. I can 
remember 1946, in Al ameda County, in our congressional district, on the 
November ballot, George P. Miller the congressman who had been -first 
elected on FDR's coattails in '44 was the only Democrat we got to vote 
for in the general election. 

Morr i s; That's right, because Warren had won on both tickets in the 
June pr i mar y . 
Huf-f ; That's right. 

Morr i s; So there just wasn't anybody in the governor's slot. 
Hu-f -f ; The thing was wiped out, that's right. 
Morr i s ; That must have been a very strange sensation. 
Hu-f -f ; A sense o-f outrage, that the system just wasn't right. And 
that kind o-f situ tat ion was a motivating -force. The whole battle for 
eliminating cross-filing sustained thethat was an issue that crossed 
all intra-party lines. Everybody could agree on something like that. 
That was the cement that held everything together. 

It's only after the party began to be successful that it 
started to fall apart. Of course before that, it didn't have anything 

to hold together it's kind of an evolutionary process. You build 

strength and then it starts to erode on itself. 

Morr i s ; This was the question I wanted to deal with next. I was really- 
startled with this letter that Stephen Reinhardt [chair, Democratic 
state central committee] wrote to Pat Brown in November of '64. I think 
I sent you a copy of it. Although it's dated '64, and you were up in 
Sacramento by then, he's talking about concerns going back two or three 
years, and he's talking about tensions within the party, and what 
looked to him like efforts of some personal power building, and some 
people who didn't like volunteers in the party. 

The reference points were Kennedy's loss in California in 
I960, and then the struggle over Clair Engle's senate seat in 1964. 
Huff ; That [the Engl e struggle] actually destroyed the party over 
time. That was the beginning of the end. Nothing was ever right after 
that. It created a d i sse n s i on an d a d i v i s i on that n e v e r r e a 1 1 y h e a 1 e d . 
That s my p e r son a 1 v i ew . 

Morr i s ; Were there committee meetings at the subcommittee level? 
Huf f ; Yes, most of this was maneuvering behind the scenes. The whole 
problem of deal ing with Clair and his wife was such a tough deal . 
Morr i s ; There were those who thought he would recover from the brain 
tumor , am I r i gh t? 

Huf f ; Well, most of those people had their own agenda, or reason for 
wanting that to happen. You know, there's al ways-- the coterie around 
the incumbent. And with a US senator that's a fairly large following. I 
heard recently that one of the Democratic candidates for the Board of 


Equal i ration has a fairly large legislative staff that he wants to take 
care of if he gets elected, and doesn't uNder stand that the number of 
exempt appointments is limited to one per Board member. So I think he's 
in for a rude shock if he wins. I think that's if I can remember who 
it is, there are so many candidates--! think it's somebdoy like 
McAlister, or somebody like that. [It was state senator Paul B. 
Carpenter who was elected in November 1986, and whose senate seat may 
be lost to the Republicans in a special election still to be called to 
fill the upcoming vacancy; assemblyman Alister McAlister was a 
candidate for state controller who lost in the June 1986 Democrtic 
pr i mar y to assembl yman Gray Dav is.] 
Morr i s : Somebody who's now in the legislature? 
Huf f ! Yes, one of the current legislators. 

You've got the problem of the nor th-sou th relationship, and I 
think I mentioned before that I felt that the real contribution that, 
Kent et al made, and why things were different up north, was that there 
were fewer people who were self-seeking. Roger didn't want anything, he 
wasn't looking for any appointments, or elected office, or anything 
like that. There are always people --and I don't think there's anything 
wrong with it, I think that's what keeps it going--but in the south it 
just seemed like everybody was out to cut everybody else's throat for 
their own personal ends, rather than the broader look, and healthier 
for the par ty . 

Thoughts on Political Career Building 

Huf f ; Somehow or other you've got to get your perspective in 1 ine, 
and I've seen more people end up pol itically unsuccessful because in 
the position they're in which could be a non-elected office, it may be 
only an appointed officerather than make the best judgment they can 
on the basis of the role they have, and do that job the best way they 
know how, they constantly make decisions based on how they think it'll 
affect their ability to get into the next job. And that's 
contra-productive. It just doesn't work, because you don't have the 
perspective to know how to deal with it until you get there. People 
destroy themselves doing that. 

Morr i s i Would this be people 1 ike Carmen Wars-haw, and Jesse Unruh, 
around whom a lot of controversy seemd to develop? 

Huff ; I don't think Carmen ever had any aspiration for office. 
Morr i s ; No, but she wanted to be party chair. 

Huf f ; Yes, she wanted to be a pol itical maker and shaker. She was 
known in party circles as "The Dragon Lady". I never really understood 

what drove hei she was a very driven person, and played pol itical 

hardball, cutthroat. 

Unruh didn't have the abil ity to distinguish between what was 
important and what was unimportant. To him winning was important, and 
power was important, not the gradation of issues, and the fact that to 
exercise power most effectively you have to be very discriminating in 
doing it. If you're twisting somebody's arm on every issue, you're 
going to break his arm, or it's going to get so sore he can't function. 
You've qot to let up on it once in a wh i le, so that when you put the 
twist on, it has a lot more impact. He didn't have the ability to do 
that . 

I mentioned before, I saw him fight as hard over the issue in 

executive committee of the state central committee as to where the next 
meeting was going to be, as over a major political issue on the floor 
of the assembly. It didn't make any sense. 

Morr i s: When did he begin to put a lot of effort into the legislature 
itself raising money, and did that then have a bearing on how easily 
the party could raise money, in terms of the state central committee" 
Huff ; The state central committee was never good at raising money, 
and he was in a natural position to raise money. The money he raised, 
though the sources were totally different than those that would 
normally flow to the party. He was dealing primarily with lobbyists and 
those who had a specific interest in the outcome of legislation. So it 
was kind of a different world. 

And of course, in those days, campaigns weren't that 

expensive, and a few dollars went a long way. It wasn't that difficult 
to put it all together. But he used to state that it didn't matter who 
contributed what, didn't affect his vote. He used to ridicule people 
that would assert that, and I think he's a phoney on that subject. 
People who contribute get attention, and they get access, and they have 
the opportunity to present their side of the case, and their facts. 
That's influence anyway you cut it. And it works. 

Morr i s ; Did you, and Roger, and Don, and other members of the '212 
gang" have any discussions about what the implication was going to be 
of the legislative caucus developing from campaign funds and 
ac t i v i ties'? 

Huf f ; I don't know that we had focused strategy meetings on what to 
do about it, but I think there was a lot of grumbl ing about how 
helpless we were in the face of that kind of activity. Northern 
political activists, other than legislators and their immediate 
supporters, I think, were not typically in tune with the Unruh type 
approach to politics, and his general goals and ends. Unruh never came 
through as anybody with any great standards, or high ethics, or 
anything very inspiring as far as I was concerned. 
Morr i s: You mentioned that in 1960 Pat Brown's "favorite son" 
delegation, or Pat Brown himself, worked for Kennedy's nomination. 
Unruh was also involved in 

Huf f ; On a personal basis. He had his own connection through Bobby 
[Kennedy]--! think it was primarily through Bobby--to Jack Kennedy 
himself. But that wasn't a party thing. He was paddl ing his own canoe. 
Morr i s : In terms of the Kennedy campaign in Cal ifornia, or was it 
other parts of the country? 

Huff ; I can't say definitively. I think just in terms of his own 
perception as a power broker, basically. 

Morr i s ; What about [Steve] Re i nhardt ' s concern about Kennedy losing in 
Cal ifornia? If Unruh and Brown, the two major power sources, were both 
for h i m 

Huf f ! But they weren't for each other, [laughs] Well, I don't think 
the Kennedy loss in '60 those things generally emerge as bigger than 
the pushing and shoving of the party workers. The party effort is 
marginal at best, you know, and it may shove it a 1 ittle bit one way or 
the other--. This was Nixon's state, he was a home grown character for 
better or for worse, and I don't know what kind of impact that had. 

There were so many variables. You've got the valley, which we 
call the 'Bible Belt', because of all the migration from Oklahoma and 
other parts of the mid-west and from the south, and I'm sure that area, 
was a hotbed of an t i -Kennedy i sm because he was a Catholic. I don't know 


that anyone ever analyzed it definitively, but that was one variable. 
The economic situation is always a piece of it. There's just a lot of 
intangibles that drive people that are sometimes very easy to see after 
the fact, but you can't see when you r e in the middle of it. 
Morr i s ; Could you explain a little more what you said about the party- 
effort as marginal at best? 

Huff : Well, I think that's kind of axiomatic, that the number of 
people who are politically active compared to the number of voters i= 
relatively small. There isn't that much impact. In the first place, 
there isn't that much actual action, and then the action i s--as far as 
ef fee t i veness--d i m i n i shed in terms of how many people are turned around 
as to how they will vote. It's just like a newspaper endorsement. I 
think a newspaper endorsement used to be a big deal , but these days 
it's only a marginal factor, also. I don't think there are that many 
people that are swayed to change their votes because of a newspaper 
endorsement. If they follow the endorsement, they were already incl i ned 
to follow whatever position that paper took. 
Morr i s ; They were already inclined in that direction. 

Huf f : Yes. Then there's the whole question of getting out the vote. 
It's not good enough that everybody's sitting at home ready to do the 
right thing. If they don't get to the polling placewe don't have 
patronage in this state that's the glue that normally makes for good 
precinct operations. There's somebody out there doing it that has a 
direct financial interest in the outcome. 

Ray Sullivan, from City Hall ['San Franc i sco] he used to be up 
here, I think we mentioned Ray [former member of the Legislative 
Analyst's staff and former Ways and Means staffer when Willie Brown was 
chair]. He was back in Chicago on a publ i c works project this is 
within the last couple of years and he's going around with this big 
shot from Chicago public works, on various objectives in terms of his 
trip. He actually was there and saw city workers collecting their 
paychecks at precinct headquar ters that ' s where they went to get their 
checks, their city checks! 

Morr i s ; That sounds like the old Tammany Hall days. 

Huff; This is in our time, you know. We can't even relate to that 
out here. Something like that is 

Morr i s: In a situation like that the bookkeeping turns out a check 
Huff : I don't know how it happens, except that I understand the way 
the general set up is, that most party functionaries precinct 
captains, and this type of thing also hold city jobs. So there's that 
linkage, and somehow or other they manage to remind everybody when they 
pick up their check where that job's coming from. 

Morr i s ; Well , every now and then you run into somebody who says that 
it's an honor and a privilege to be able to put money into so-and-so's 
party campaign, because that's how democracy works. Does that motivate 
many peop 1 e? 

Huff ; I don't think so, no. 

Morr i s; Were there some special "get out the vote" strategies that 

Huf f ; Oh, yes. Somebody usually had a grand scheme, and it always 
looked good on paper, but you didn't have enough money to make it work 
usually, and something that's dependent totally on volunteer effort is 
sporadic at best. It's no stronger than the volunteer who fails to 
follow thouah, or doesn't call the people to get other volunteers, or 
whatever. And those people are no better than the ones who say they're 

going to do something and then don't do it. 

Morn i s ; But one would think, that by the time somebody arrives at the 

ley el of being on the state central committee, or county chairman, that 

they knew this is what it took to get 

Hut f ; Doesn't work that way. They get there through a lot o-f 

different routes, not necessarily through working in the party. When we 

1 ived down in Oakland where we -first moved to when we came to 

Cal ifornia, my wi-fe had that precinct locked up, nailed tight. She knew 

everybody in the precinct that was a Democrat, and she went out and 

hustled them to the polls on election day, and the whole thing. But 

that was not typical . And later when we moved we never got the new 

precinct as organized as well as the -first time, but she was especially 

motivated the -first time, and by golly she did it. 

Morr i s ; Had she learned this on the job, as it were, or had she been 

i n 

Hu-f -f ; She'd never really been politically active be -fore. 

Party Divisions Begin, 1964 

Morr i s ! So when did the volunteers begin you know, the sense I get is 
that you came in on a wave o-f volunteers with inspiration and 
dedication that carried the CDC and the Democratic party along -freely 
and strong 1 y . 

Hu-f -f : For quite a while, and then it all started to fall apart. I 
think the real beginning o-f the end was the Clair Engle problem. If you 
really looked back, and tried to track it and analyze it, everything 
that had been held together, and a fairly unified approach to 
everything up "til then--it became di ; . E-ive after that. 

Engle was a special breed of cat all his own. He was a free 
wheeling, kind of inspiring individual. Colorful language, oh God. 
Morr i s ; He had been part of this party building effort, hadn't he? And 
he had shared office space with the party, and with the Democratic 
counc i 1 ? 

Huf f ; Right. And he was a classic case of somebody coming from the 
'boonies' to win a statewide office for the U.S. Senate. That was just 
an incredible thing. 

Morr i s ; He was the one he and his wife used to fly their own plane 
ar ou n d c amp a i gn i n g . 

Huff : Right. As a matter of fact, I got brought back from the '60 
convention in LA to Oakland. Clair flew Uan Dempsey and me back, and I 
remember he just putted down, and only cut one engine, and we piled 
out, and he took off again. There were just three of us, I don't know 
where his wife was at that point. 

Had he been a flyer during World War II? 

I don't know. I suppose he was. 

I don't either. Did Roger have a personal friendship with-- 
Huf f ; Yes, there was a very close personal bond there. 
Morr i s : I've heard a lot abou t Unruh ' s said this, and Pat Brown said 
itabout Engle's illness. I don't know that anybody has commented, and 
I don't think Roger did in his oral history, as to what he thought was 
the thing to do when Engle became so ill . 

Hu-ff: I don't know anything definitive. I know there was a lot of 
agonizing going on. 
Morr i s: But isn't it the kind of thing that the state central 


committee, or at least its executive committee, i f they see a situation 

developing would say, these are some of the things you should take a 

look at? 

H_uf_f : An issue like that never really gets on the table. It's 

back-room kind o-f business. It's very difficult to bring that one up. 

That was the real problem, because there was always the doubt who had 

the definitive medical knowledge as to whether this was recoverable, or 

not? If it was recoverable, why nobody in the world wanted to 

jeopardize the situation. 

Morr i s : There was a brief recorded message from Engle that was 

broadcast at a CDC convention. 

Huff ; That wasn't good. 

Morr i s ; I don't know that I've heard the tape, but I've seen the 

transcr i p t of it. 

Huff ; Wasn't very coherent. 

Nor r i s ; It was really heart-breaking, even if you didn't know Engle. 

Huf f : Well, I think that was kind of the beginning of the end, 

because up until that time there'd been a pretty good cover-up. 

Morr i s ; Well, I guess that's in the area of speculation, but it's 

really striking that a situation like that can leave difficulties that 

icon t i nue . 

Huff : Real scars. 

Morr i s ; Would it have been different if Pierre Salinger had not come 
upon the scene and decided to run? 

Huf f ; I doubt it, but I think he detracted and helped embitter the 
situation. Because at that point he was an out lander, pure and simple, 
and politically that's the way he ended up as being seen. The problem 
was, I think, Don's judgment in this thing I think Don was the driving 
force. I don't know that, but that's just my guess. They were very 
close, and he saw this as an opportunity to move in with somebody that 
he had direct, close rapport with. I just don't think that he was in a 
position to make the best political judgment on that. 
Morr i s ; Don? 

Huff : Don, yes. You see Don and Cranston never got along too well . 
They were kind of oil and water. I don't think Roger and Alan got along 
that well, either. I think all of the niceties were observed. I don't 

i think there was anything overt that was negative, but Cranston just 
wasn't Roger's type. Roger was a very loose, open person, and Alan 
always had his own agenda and, in my view, has always been first and 
foremost, a self-seeker, and always played his cards fairly close to 

jhis vest. He's a very frustrating person to deal with. You know, he has 
this reputation of being a great vote-counter, which he is, in the 
senate. He goes around and tallies up the votes. But you try to find 
out where he is on something, and he's just all over the place. He's 
very evasive you can't pin him down. He's the last person to allow his 
vote to be tallied. A strange kind of situation. I can't help but 
wonder if the motivating force behind his vote tallying efforts is to 
determine which way the wind is blowing in order to determine his own 
vote. I don't mean to imply that this is the case on every issue, 
because he does have well staked-out positions on some issues. It's 
just a thought, and my own private opinion. 

Morr i s ; How did that work when he was a candidate himself? Would his 
campaign mesh with what the central committee was doing, when it was a 
st a t ew i de th i ng? 
Hu_f f : When you say, 'mesh," that assumes the state central committee 


had & we 11 -organ i zed , definitive campaign as an entity itself. That 
just didn't reallx occur. This is my personal view, and I'm thinking 
out loud now. As a statutory structure, it was sort of a holding 
mechanism rather than a power or force, and i t kept things going. When 
the elections were in the offing, candidates got their own campaigns 
going, and people would peel off and work the campaigns of t heir- 
choice . And a lot of times they'd be the same people, but they weren't 
working, per se . in the official capacity of a state committee person. 
They were doing their thing for a candidate. Co-ordination among 
campaigns was a sometime thing, largely dependent on the personal i tes 
of the candidates and their managers. 

Of course, if it's a gubernatorial campaign, the main focus 
would be on the gubernatorial candidate, and most of the other- 
constitutional offices would just be along for the ride. The use of the 
slate mailer was a device to give the indicia of party unity, although 
the prime candidate carried the main part of the cost. Other candidates 
often contributed only token amounts, or even in some cases nothing at 
al 1 . 

Morr i s ; In terms of the central committee's planning? 

Huff ; Well, just in terms of campaigning. They're raising money--you 
know, it's very difficult for the lesser candidates to raise 
significant amounts of money. It didn't really matter too much what 
they did, but you could never tell them that! Uan tried to tell 
somebody that one time it was Bert Betts C1958 Democratic nominee for 
state treasurer, swept in on the Pat Brown tide]. Uan said to Bert, 
"Hey, go to Hawa i i , or do whatever you want. It doesn't matter, you're 
along for the ride, just put up a pro forma front." Well, you know, 
Betts was insulted, because he felt that he was important, and that 
everything he did was vital to his getting elected. [Betts served two 
undistinguished terms as state treasurer; his main claim to 'fame' (?) 
is the court case he won on his pension rights that introduced the 
escalator factor for retired elected officials that is now an 
unmitigated scandal.] 

All candidates are susceptible to the ' se 1 f - i mpor tance ' 
disease. They may enter a race on a fluke, or just to keep a base 
covered, or for some other less than substantial reason. But sooner or 
later, the bug bites them, and they start taking themselves seriously. 
Morr i s; I can see that, but I would also think that, even if you think 
being controller is terribly important, you would think that the 
candidate would realize that being governor is on a different order 
than being controller. 

Huf f ; Well, I think they do intellectually, but not emotionally, 
because their focus is on themselves. The political realities are, that 
the way the top of the ticket goes is the main thrust. There may be 
minor factors that affect the situation, but that's all they are. 

Let's see, [Frank] Jordan was the only [incumbent] 

survivor Secretary of State in '58 and I'm trying to remember the 
Democrat who ran against him. That was the most ignominious of al 1 , to 
have a sweep, and then be the one that didn't make it. It doesn't 
mat ter . 

What I was thinking of was an article I just read the other 
day about some professor in the mid-west who's been running a test for 
a number of years with his political science classes. He holds a little 
election, and he has a whole list of candidates, and he asks the 
students to vote for them in their order of preference. The candidates 


include actual elected officials that have odd-ball names, -foreign 
sounding names, this type of thing. Then it includes some non-elected 
types that have very apple-pie, 'American"' sounding names, 1 ike Gus 
Hal 1 , and the whole 1 i st of the communists. And, by golly, the 
students were uninitiated, and didn't know any of these people. And all 

i the communists would win in these class-held elections. The professor 
has been carrying it on class after class, to prove that the name has 
something to do with it, and the feel of whether i t ' s foreign or 
famil i ar . That's what I was trying to reach for; Jordan is a very 
plain, ordinary name, and the ticket in that year was fairly 

: we 1 1 -bal anced , ethnically, and the whole works. I'm sure that whoever 

. the candidate was, he was d i sadvan taged by his name. 

Mor r- i s ; Even though the population includes a number of people whose 
names are Polaski, and Greenberg, and names like that? They still vote 
for Smith and Jones. 

Huf f ; I don't know whether they do, but there's a tendency anyway. 

.But that again, is a marginal kind of thing. How these things all add 
up I don't think anybody really knows scientifically. 
Nor r i s ; Did the party make much use of consultants, or polls? 
Huff : Back in those days? Very limited. It was just an emerging 
factor in terms of the tools. It's mandatory now, but pre-'60 it was 
pretty 1 i mi ted. And when they were taken, they were few and far 
between. The Gallup poll, when did it start? Not only the Gallup poll, 
but the California [Field] poll. I think it only goes back into the 
'50s for California focussed polls. Gallup nationally goes back 
farther. An Antioch classmate of mine had a co-op job as a Gallup 
poll taker right about the beginning of World War II. 

Of course, that existed before 'private' polling, where the 
candidate actually hires his own pollster. That hasn't been going on 

; f or much more than 20 years, or so. 

Morr i s: Well, 1966, Reagan's first campaign for governor. They had a 
private polling outfit. 

j Huf f ; I think that was part of the basis of putting all that 

i toge ther . 

Morr i s ; Yes, they did a lot of research during the period when 
Reagan, and the people who eventually became his backers, were deciding 
whether or not to go for governor. Then, I have talked to people who 
have said that they were already then using some form of the not 
necessarily overnight poll but they were going out and spot-polling, 
and found some things that did affect how they then developed the 
camp a i gn . 

Huff ; Of course, it's become so fast and so sophisticated, that 
issues are changed in the middle of the campaign, or in mid-week, for 
that matter. Back in those days that was unheard of. The first polling 
that I recall, before I was even in California, goes back to my college 

days, when one of my classmates was working for 1 think it 

was--Gallup. This would be back in the early 40' s. Some of the stories 
he told of how the polls were conducted didn't give me a lot of 
confidence in the result, [laughs] 

horr i s; You still hear about that. The alternative is your 
description of Van Dempsey, who knew people in every county, and could 
do his own instinctive rendering of what was going on there. That 
reminds me of Roger Kent talking about, you know, they would target 
di str i c ts--al so sounds like on the basis of accumulated information of 


the people involved. 

Huff ; Yes, it wasn't that scientific. It was based on registration 

figures, and the -fact that everybody knew that you had to have at least 

a -five or ten percent edge to be equal with a Republican [candidate]. 

Because the Republicans had a better voter turnout record, and things 

like that. And the Democrats had a lower level of party loyalty. 

Mor r i s ; How did you put volunteers to work during a campaign? 

Huf_f : The tough part was getting a rel iable person to be in charge 

of the volunteers. .--'Other frustrating thing was that the availability 

of volunteers didn't always match the time when they were needed. 

Sometimes there was a real problem keeping them busy. 

Mor r i s ; What did you do in those situations? 

Huf f ; Better ask Cyr [Copertini, veteran professional campaign 

worker with over forty years experience in California Democratic 

politics] I don't know whether she'll admit it or not how many times 

she took a box of three by five cards out in the back room, dumped it 

upside-down, and then brought it back for a volunteer to alphabetize, 

to give them something to do. 

Morr i s; She did indeed. She d i dn ' t tell me that she dumped it out, I 

thought it was just sort of an endless task. 

Huff ; That was an old technique. They [the volunteers] had to feel 

like they were doing something, and making a contribution. Or, how many 

times you went out and spent some money to have what we called 'snipes' 

[small posters] put up. For a few hundred bucks you could snipe a bunch 

of fences. And the only reason you put them up --it wasn't because they 

had any great political effect but your own workers had to feel that 

something was happening. So you had to do something visible. A lot of 

times the source of problems and dissensions were from your own people, 

not 1 ack of work . 

If you look at the '58 election, that was the peak of 

[Democratic] political effectiveness in California, and all that work 
surely con tr i bu ted--marg i nal 1 y . But the real reason we won was because 
Kn owl and and Knight switched slots, and as a consequence we had two 
wide-open places [on the ballot]. All the work in the world added to 
the margin, but it didn't make the win. 

Mor r i s : But you would think that the same thing would work in the 
other direction. There are times--! ike the troubles over Engle's seat 
led to the election of George Murphy. That's sort of a given in 
politics, isn't it? That there's always something unexpected. 
Huff ; Well the negatives. Like this 1986 election. This election is 
Deukmejian's to lose, not Bradley 's to win. Bradley can't win this 
election. Deukme j i an could do something that would make him lose it, is 
what i t amounts to. 

So the negatives work against you, sure. And Murphy, again, 
name [identification], the movie bus i ness--wh i ch seems to be the way 
we're going to create all our political candidates, now. We've had 
Murphy and Reagan, and now Cl int Eastwood. I guess that's the way to 
go. What a sad day. 

Morr i s ! That argues against the idea of I don't know whether it 
does, necessarily the Republicans say, is there any reason why an 
actor can't have political concerns. 

Huf f ; Theoretically, not. But I think it's a sad commentary, that 
n ame i de n t i f i c a t i on ov err i de s an y kind of subs t an c e . Nobody can c 1 a i m 
that Ronald Reagan brought any substance to anything, you know. 
Morr i s ; Well, the ideas were already there. They were looking for a 


spokesman . 

Huff : Yes, well, I'm not sure how many real ideas there were. 
Morr i s ; Like so many things that happened in California Democratic 
politics because o-f Stevenson, the theory is that Reagan is the result 
of the Goldwater campaign [1964]. Behind Goldwater there had been 
Huf-f ; Yes, I guess a case can be made -for that. 

Single Issue Po 1 i t i c s 

Morr i s ! The other thing, -from the political science point o-f view, is 
that in the -'60s, and more so coming into the "'70s, there becomes an 

increasing number o-f s i n Q 1 e - i s s u e organizations. 
Hu-f -f ; That's going to be the end o-f us, I think single- issue 

; prob 1 ems . 

, Morr i s ; Were they beginning to pop up-- 

i Hut f ; I don't think the single- issue really became a problem 

'until kind o-f Vietnamish, is the way I would put it. The whole concept 
that everything would rise or -fall on one issue. I can remember trying 

! to calm my wi-fe down one time, because and that was over Vietnamshe 
had written a hot letter to George P. Miller [Congressman], and got a 
hot letter back. He was chairman o-f the Space Committee at the time, 
and I think served on the Armed Forces Committee, but am not sure. 
A-fter I peeled her o-f the ceiling I said, you know, the world doesn't 
stand or -fall on that one issue. You've got to look at the -full 
picture. Here's a senior congressman (and ours to boot), who's made 
contributions all over the place during the past twenty-so odd years, 
and here you're trying to shoot him [down] because o-f this one issue. 
That's the -first, in my own recollection, that I really started to see 
the destruc t i veness o-f judciinq somebody just on one i ssue --stand or 
fall . 

Then this whole business, abortion, capital punishment, you 
name it. These people are crazy people, you know. They -froth at the 
mouth over their one issue, and it block's everything else out. 
Morr i s ! How does the single issue, as developed in the last 15 years. 

how did that emerge -from the old business o-f building a coalition o-f 

people to go to the legislature because you wanted, you know, more 
money -for the schools, or 

Hut f ; There was, I guess, a lot more give and take, a lot more 
tolerance o-f where other people came -from on issues. You didn't -feel 

that somebody had to go right down the line and be 1GOX on every issue. 

Morris: In '65 there were serious d i -f -f er ences between the CDC 

E California Democratic Council] and the central committee, because the 
CDC was much more active in opposing the war in 'v'ietnam, even though 
the party pi at -form had a plank saying that the war in Vietnam was not 
very pr oduc t i ve . 

Huft ; My theory on the Democratic party, nationally, is that the 
real strength has been the diversity. I-f you talk about radicals of the 
right or left, typically the Democratic Party has had kookier ones on 
the right than the Republicans. And i -f you go down south, the worst of 
the worst has been within the Democratic Party, and the worst radicals 
of the left have been in the Democratic Party, plus everybody in 
between. In the national convention process what emerges is that the 
battle is really fought there trying to arrive at some kind of 
consensus that these disparate groups can [agree upon ] --nobody s 


satisfied but every bodx decides, well, we can live with it. 

Professor Harris once put it as well as anybody. He said, the 
Democratic Party is like a bunch o-f alleycats. They're always 
scratching, and biting, and -fighting. But you'll notice that when they 
get through, there are always more cats. 

Morr i s; [laughs] This is Joe Harris, down at [ UC , Santa Cruz] 
Huff: Yes. 

Morr i s ; That's wonderful. And this is done at the conventions, or is 
i t done i n 

Huff ; Well, at the national level the only focus is the national 
convention. That's the only time we have any semblance of a national 
party, really. When it works, it works, and when people take a walk, 
it's very difficult. The IPP [Independent Progressive Party] in 
'48 they were all theoretically Democrats. [When] the South takes a 
walk it's pretty hard to win under those conditions. 

Morr i s; Did you begin to get discouraged with some of these realities 
of politics? Is that why you decided to take a Job in the state 
gover nmen t? 

Huff : No, it didn't go like that. One of the mysteries to myself, 
is, I've never really lost my idealism, under conditions which I would 
think I would have. And I've examined that, and I think the reason 
is at least my rationalization is that somehow or another I've always 
been able to separate the theory and the system from the people 
[involved in running it]. I can go before a committee [of the 
legislature] and see somebody whom I have no respect for, or who I 
think is a crook, or whatever, and I don't nail the system with the 
fact that we [the voters] put the wrong person in there. 

Also, I feel that what we get, basically, is what we deserve. 
That it's pretty much a mirror of what we are. And if we're sending a 
poor caliber of legislator to Sacramento, or congressman to Washington, 
we get just about what we deserve. 

Morr i s; How about the corollary that in spite of its imperfections, 
and the lack of people paying attention, and taking part, that the 
people in the long run usually make a sound decision? 

Huff ; Well, I'll put it a little differently and I'm not sure how 
sound a judgment it is. The system tends, or has tended, to kind of 
bungle its way along, and we have survived. In California, my concern 
is that in the last let's see if I can put a time on it at least in 
the last 15 years, maybe 20 years, the legislature has ceased to face 
up to, and resolve, the major issues in this state. As a result, 
there's been greater, and heavier reliance on the initiative, and that 
is destructive of the system, because it's a poor way to solve a 
problem. For all its defects, the legislative process does expose a 
proposal to critical examination, does expose it to the give and take, 
the compromise process. Both party to party, house to house, various 
interests and con tr a- i n ter ests , and all that abr as i veness . Although the 
solution may get watered down in the process, there is progress, even 
if it only inches a long, a little bit [at a time]. 

When the thing gets so stalemated, that the process can't 
seem to make any kind of decision it walks up to it, then walks 
awa> the system's not working. 

Morr i s ; Do you recall when initiatives began to be introduced by 
1 eg i si a tors? 

Huff. ; Well, they've always done it from time to time, but I think 
it's become more prevalent in, probably, the last decade. I couldn't 


put a precise time on it. 

You know, Proposition 13 [ Jarv i s-Gann property tax limitation 
initiative, 19733 was sort of a watershed deal. There was a mechanism 
in the state constitution--! helped draft the amendment. I didn't 
really like it, but I think it was a classical example o-f a compromise 
that I thought was d i stastef u 1 --bu t something had to be done. It was 
called the homeowners' property tax exemption, and it was a dollar 
amount that was built in to take the heat out of the inflationary 
forces on the property tax. That was a legislative initiative. 
Morr i s : Prop. 13 was a legislative initiative? 

Hut f : No, no, wait a minute. I'm talking about the homeowners"' 
exemption. We had to amend the constitution to do that. I want to make 
a distinction. Ulh e n you talk abou t legislators p r omo ting initiatives, 
what went through my mind was a Ross Johnson [state assemblyman] going 

out although he"'s a legislatoi and starting an initiative 

circulation c amp a i gn on his own . 

Morr i s ; Right. That's what I mean, as opposed to the measures by the 

constitution that have to go on the ballot. 

Huff ; Yes, there's legislaitve initiatives all the time, and that's 

historically where most of them have come from. The number of 

grassroots initiatives that are successful in getting on the ballot is 

fairly small . And it's only jn the recent decade or so, really with 

Prop. 13, that the computer and the sophistication of the signature 

gathering process has become a cottage industry. If you've got the 

right size nest egg, you can almost guarantee getting something on the 

ballot. So that's a different deal. 

But my point on the homeowners' exemption was, there was this 
mechanism in the constitution, and the legislature, instead of staying 
with it and updating the dollar figure of the exemption to match 
inflation, they Just ignored it. It was put in there, and just allowed 
to stay static. If they had kept it current, property taxes would not 
have become a major political issue. [The constitutional mechanism 
provided for updating the exemption figure by statute.] What happened 
was, that there got to be a big brou-ha-ha about the renter, and the 
political forces representing the renter were insisting on something 
for them, and wouldn't allow the other to be updated, and the plain 
fact is, there is no logical, sure, measurable way to give relief to 
the renter. It can't be done. And that's where the whole thing kind of 
blew up. But if they'd kept that homeowners' exemption viable, there 
would never have been a Prop. 13. Simple as that. 


Mr. Huff Goes to Sacramento 

Mor r i s ; How did you happen to come up to Sacramento and become 
executive officer of the California State Franchise Tax Board? 
Huff ; Because I dot a phone call from Alan Cranston in the middle 
of a mee no,, asked me if I wanted to be the executive officer, and I 
sa i d , yes . 

I was an elected city official in Oakland. I was the 
auditor-controller, and I was in some kind of meeting. My secretary 


pulled me out, and Alan was on the other end of the line. He was 
chairman of the Franchise Tax Board, as controller. It's a three-man 
board, and the incumbent executive officer who'd been there 13 years 
was a Republican and was retiring [John J. Campbell], 

I think I had thrown my name in the pot for executive 

secretary. State Board of Equalization. But I hadn't really pursued it 
very much. That probably surfaced my name, but I actually hadn't put in 
for the FTB . In fact, I'm not sure I even knew there was going to be a 
vacancy. I don't know, I was just ready. That's all I can say. When he 
asked me --you know, I needed to ask my wife! Move my whole family, my 
kids, and everything. 

Of course, it didn't happen for-- that was in May, or 

sometime and it didn't take place until the end of August. I know, 
because our family was all going on a big trip back east, and I had to 
bail out of that. I went up to fdaho, and floated down the middle fork 
of the Salmon River on a raft (SF attorney and politico Bill Gobi enz 
was my tentmate on the trip), while my family went back east to visit 
relatives, and all that kind of business. So it was sort of a fluke, I 
guess. It wasn't anything I had planned, but mentally, and every other 
way, I was ready to do it. 

Mor r i s ; So Alan would have talked to the other people on that three 
man board, and said, this person 

Huf f : Oh, yes, he'd run it the director of finance was Hale 
Champion. I'm not sure they talked to the third member. That was John 
Lynch --at the moment he was chairman of the Board of Equal i zat i on 
[BofE]. The FTB consists of the director of finance, the controller, 
and whoever happens to be chairman of the Board of Equalization, which 
rotates annually. He C Lynch] was not very swift, politically or 
technically. He was sort of along for the ride. So I'm sure they 
mentioned it to him, but as an accomplished fact. 
Mor r i s : And he was in the minority as one Republican. 

Huf f ; No, he was a Democrat. All three were Democrats at the time. 
No, he was elected, he was part of the '58 sweep. He and Nevins all 
came in in ' 58 . 

Mor r i s : What were the things that interested you about the FTB, and 
were there some specific tasks--? 

Huf f : Well, I was a CPA , and, you know, administration of the state 
income tax came under the FTB. I was more interested as an 
adm i n i s t r a t or than anything else. I don ' t k n ow h ow to explain it. 
Morr i s; Neither the Franchise Tax Board and the Board of Equalization 
are well known, and its members even less so. 

Huff ; John Lynch was a valley man, basically. Not about to go down 
in the annals as a contributor of very much of anything. He was a 
go-a longer, basically. A nice guy, and perfect gentlemen, very nice 
guy. No great politico, however. 

Morr i s ! George Re i 1 1 y was still in his heyday, at that point. 
Huff : We 1 1 , when you say "heyday", I don't know what you mean. 
Morr i s : That he'd been there when 
Huff ; He was there a long time. 

Morr i s ; Right, and when you read about it in the press which was 
usually the San Francisco press, in my exper i e nee --he seemed to feel 
that he was having a significant effect on fiscal affairs in 
Cal i f or n i a . 

Huf f ; About that [gestures] 
Morr i s ; Not much? 


Huf i : Zero. In -fact, if a constituent from San Francisco had a case 
before the BofE, the poor constituent would leave feeling that, by 
gollx, George Re i 1 1 y was really in his corner, and George said all the 
right things. When they [BofE board members] signed off" on a case, more 
often than not, he signed the other way [opposite to the constituent's 
position]. It was all show. 

He survived the Bonelli [William G.] scandals, and up until 
that time he d i dn ' t even know what was going on. He told me this 
personally one time. It was just kind of luck that he survived. And he 
just went with the flow, and he didn't know who was doing what to 
anybody. Then after that [the scandals], he decided he was going to put 
on a show. He was just an actor in a scene, and it didn't mean a thing. 
Morr i s : I see. That's too bad. 

Huf f ; I would say that he contributed virtually nothing in his 
forty-odd years on the Board of Equalization. I suppose I shouldn't be 
iso hard on him because he was generally a strong supporter of mine, but 
jmy style is to call them as straight as I know how, friend or foe. 
'Nor r i s ; From where you sat on the Franchise Tax Board, did you feel 
I that the Board of Equal i ration was a necessary part of state 
igover nmen t ? 
.Huff ; In terms of function, or in terms of theory? 

Morr i s ! In terms of needing an elected bod> 

Huff : I don't think that it should be an elected body at all. It's 
totally inappropriate. But it serves as an administrative appeals board 
jto my [former] department. Not to the FTB as a board, but to my 
I [former] department. And that role can be handled without a 
constitutional elected body. In fact the administrative remedy for the 
taxpayer should be provided by an independent board appointed by the 
governor. That's the way it should be handled. 

What we have, grew 1 ike Topsy. It started out with this is a 
whole subject, but--. You know, in the late '20s, the Board of 
Equalization was a handful of people, staff. All it did was equalize 
the property tax rolls between counties and they didn't do much of a 
job on thatand actually assess the public utility roll. That was a 
fairly sma 1 1 function. 

When the sales tax came along, that's what expanded the 
department. The same [legislative] package that had the sales tax had 
the income tax. This was in the depth of the depression, and there was 
divisiveness between rural and labor [political] forces, and the income 
tax did not pass that time. If it had, it undoubtedly would have 
been because the package was put together by Riley [Ray L . ] , the 
controller, and Stewart [Fred E.3, the chairman of the Board of 
Equal ization the income tax would have been administered by the Board 
of Equalization, today. 

They [the legislature] doubled back. A couple of years later 
they managed to get the income tax enacted personal inome tax. There 
was already a corporate tax. By that time the political climate was 
such that they did not want to attach the income tax to the Board of 
Equalization. There was the Franchise Tax Commissioner [Charles J. 
McColgan] it was not a board then and so they threw it to him. 

Now also in the depression, when they enacted the amendment 
to the constitution that created the [state] civil service, when they 
did it, through an error in draf tmansh i p , they forget about the 
Franchise Tax Commissioner [it was a v e r y low profile position]. Since 
the civil service amendment was silent with respect to the position of 


Franchise Tax Commissioner, there was no way to remove the incumbent! 
He had been appointed by a committee, and the comm i t tee--when the act 
was passed, back in '' 29 , --cons i sted of the state controller, the 
chairman of the Board of Equalization, and the director of finance. 

McColgan was the commissioner -from about ''31 through the end 
o-f "49. He was 16 years at that no, he was longer than that. He was 19 
years. [Caspar] Weinberger [currently Secretary o-f De-fense and a 
distant cousin o-f Huff's daughter-in-law, Kathy Hu-f-f] was a state 
assemblyman at the time. He led an investigative committee, and there 
were some other powers and forces at work. What had happened, is that 
McColgan had become a rec 1 use some say he was an alcoholic--! don't 
know. The evidence is that he was at least a recluse. He would go into 
his office in San Franc i sco--he never came to Sacramento. The operation 
up here was run by a deputy [William M. Walsh], He [McColgan] would go 
into his office there [San Francisco], and his own employees never knew 
him at work. He would shut the door, and that was it. 

At some time during all this, he was forced to come to 
Sacramento and testify before the committee on the operation of his 
department, and he didn't know beans. He didn't know his own budget, he 
didn't know anything. It was a scandal , it was an absolute scandal . Not 
a scandal of conscious wrong-doing, just a scandal of inaction, so to 
speak, non-direction. His department was stodgy, but reasonably well 
run, thanks to the civil servants, but not to him. 

That's when they found out they had no way of removing him. 
So what they did, is they abolished his position, and created the 
Franchise Tax Board, which was the appointing committee. [The 
legislature] turned all the powers of the commissioner over to the 
board, and it then turned around and delegated all those powers back to 
the executive officer except the appointment of the executive officer, 
the adoption of regulations, and the setting of the bank tax rate, all 
Mickey Mouse kind of business, other than appointing the executive 
of f i cer . 

A Question of Style 

Mor r i s : Were there some things that Alan thought ought to be done, or 
that Pat Brown thought ought to be done, or was it purely that they 
wanted a competent person? 

Huf f ; That's it, and the interesting charge that I got from 
Champion and Cranston was, we don't really want to know anything keep 
us out of trouble. Go run the show, that s what it amounted to. And, of 
course, the concept was to make it independent of politics, and that's 
the way I approached i t--to a lot of people's dissatisfaction, but 
that's the way I thought it had to be. 

Mor r i s : Was there considerable pressure to administer-- 
Huf f ; Not under me there wasn't. Nobody had the guts to try. I 
learned that down at City Hall, that if you set the environment right 
you save yourself a lot of trouble, because people aren't going to ask 
you [to do] inappropriate things, because they know it won't work. So 
you just have got to watch the 1 i ne [as to what is ethical , moral and 
legal]. If you [are tempted to] cross the 1 ine, and you don't know 
where the next line is, you better hadn't cross the first line, because 
you will find yourself in a 'no man's land' where there are no ethical 
bearings for guidance. 


Morr i s : What kind of observations do you have about Roger's [Kent] 
resignation? There are various theories; one, that he'd been tired of 

! it for a while, and the other, that there was some sort of maneuvering 
about Pat's re-election campaign. 

Huff : Oh , I think he got t i r ed of it. We H , 1 e t ' s pu t it this wax . 
In '66, for Pat Brown's third term, I think there was a general 
burnout. There was burnout within the administration, and there was a 
degree of burnout in the party, too. It's hard to sustain carrying the 
load and the responsibility on critical issues where there was little 
or no chance of w i nn i ng--to fight a lot of battles, and keep fighting 
them, when you knew you were going to lose. 

I told Pat Brown this once, and it just shocked the pants off 
of him. I told him he really wasn't a politician. It kind of hurt, you 

i know. He's got a pretty high ego. The fact is the he evolved and 
developed as a consummate bureaucrat in a special class. Not really my 
kind of bureaucrat, but he was interested in the system, he had his own 

[standards and ideals, and his own principles, and he was a good 
delegator. He involved staff in the decision-making processsome th i ng 
Ronald Reagan didn't do. When I say that, I mean he involved the 
knowledgeable professionals. He would actually pull them in, and he 
would get the word direct he didn't have it screened though all kinds 
of political operators. 

Mor r i s : There were times when he would call you in? 

Huff ; I've gotten involved in sessions with him. Of course, I was 
involved in one with Ronald Reagan I might tell you about, too. That 
was hi 1 ar i ous . 

But with him [ Brown ] --the way I characterized it: if it was a 

; purely political question, and political issue, you almost had to back 
him to the wal 1 , hoi di ng h im to i t , and say . Pat , th i s i s a pol i t i cal 
issue. You're going to have to make a political judgment, a political 
decision, and we're going to held you there until it's over. Because if 
you took the pressure off, he'd reve- to form. My best example of it 
was pitting Democrat against Democrat. George Miller, Jr., as chairman 
of the Senate finance committee was unalterably opposed to any kind of 
enforcement on the highways. 
Morr i s : Speed limits? 

Huf f ; Well anything. Radar, you name it. And here we were losing 
four thousand people a year on the highways, which doesn't take very 
long to add up to the Vietnam fatalities. Pat, as governor, felt very 
strongly about this issue, and he would go in with the program as part 

of his program in a given year with the whole safety package, and he'd 

emerge at the end of the year bloody. Miller would just play with him, 
toying with him like a dog with a rat, or something. And the staff, one 
year, said, hey, give us a break. He wouldn't do it. He felt so 
strongly about it, he said, even if we lose, there's four thousand 
lives out there at stake, we have to go fight the battle. To me, that 
was great stuff, I really liked that. 
Morris: That's the old attorney general at work. 

Huff ; That's right. And on judicial appointments, when he had to 

make a lousy political appointment to the bench, he would turn around 

and balance the scales by making some spectacular appointments. In his 

ow n mind, that tended to 

Morr i s ; Consciously. 

Huff : Yes. 

Morr- i s : Would you care to explain who those were. 


Huff : We 1 1 , it would be putting my judgment in his place, and some 

of whom I considered to be duds, he might consider good ones. There 

were some appointments in A lame da County that I did not consider 

spectacular. They were just old political hacks. 

M o r r i s ; Who had to be. 

Huff : They were party workers, and they were old style. They were 

pre-CDC, pr e -Steven son . Leonard Dieden was one whom I considered a hack 

of" the worst order, but he was a good -fund raiser. And the guy who 

looked 1 ike Carmen DiSappio, and -functioned about the same. He was 

another politico we called the Silver Fox (like Sen. Collier). 

Morr i s ; Purchio. 

Huff ! Purchio. John J. Purchio, that's right. To me they were just 

pol itical hacks o-f the lowest order. 

Morr i s : Well, but you know, that's the same charge that's being made 

in this current campaign. That some of the people on the State Supreme 

Court were pol itical appointess o-f the other Governor Brown. 

Hu-f i : Jerry Brown. 

Morr i s ; Yes. 

Hu-f -f ; Well, I think Jerry Brown made some terrible political 

judgments. He was Justice Tobriner's law clerk. Justice Tobriner was a 

fine justice, and i -f anybody deserved to be elevated to chief justice 

on merit, he did. If anybody deserved to get it on political merit, he 

did. But Jerry wanted to be the first one to appoint a woman chief 

justice. If he had elevated Tobriner to chief justice, appointed Rose 

[Bird] to j ust i ce--Tobr i ner was right on the edge of retirement, 

anywa> he'd have served a couple of years with distinction, Rose would 

have had a chance to assimilate in a non-threatening situation, and 

could have been elevated, no fuss or muss, or, at least, a minimum. 

It was just a lousy political decision, all because of his 
ow n ego. 

Morr i s ; A matter of timing, rather than inherent qualifications. 
Huff ; Yes, that's right. 

Nor r i s ; Well, once Roger did resign, were there others who provided 
the same kind of continuity, linkage and tradition? 
Huff ; Never the same. There'll never be another Roger Kent, 
probably. You know, it's something special. 

Morr i s; He's very special to those who worked with him. How did the 
people in southern California feel about him? Did the things that made 
h i m spec i al to 

Huff ! It was different, because he was a northerner. But he still 
represented the continuity, and the leadership, and, basically, 
se 1 f 1 e ssn e ss , that was a ma j or plus f or the p ar t y . 

Mor r i s : Th e people wh o ' v e succeeded hi m we ' v e don e a brief inter v i e w 
with Charles Warren, and Roger Boas-- they both described being party- 
chair as painful. Both the contending with the factions, and, I guess, 
by then the deficits were larger than they had been? 

Huff ; We didn't have any deficits. Well , not when I was there, we 
didn't. They came after me. 

Morr i s ; Did you not have deficits while you were treasurer because 
you were treasurer, and said, there shall be no deficits? 
Huff ; Well, I can't claim full credit for it. Part of it. But it 
was because of Roger, and the whole mileau, and what everybody was 
doing. And I was a hard-1 iner. 
Morr i s ; It was part of it. 
Huff; Yes. 


Morr i s ; It's a policy thing, that we will overspend, or we won't 
overspend . 

H u -f -f ; That's right. We managed to 1 ive within our means, and we 
managed to somehow or other, have the means match at least minimum 
needs. A lot of the time it was kind of a 'by-guess and by-gosh' thing, 
but there was enough going on out there, that money would float in. 
Some congressional district that hadn't contributed in a long time 
would have scraped up some money, and sent some in right when we were 
wondering it we were going to pay the rent. This type of thing. 

As I think I told you before, we actually built a credit 
record. We had a credit rating, with printers, and it's like money in 
the bank. Nobody ever heard of a political party doing that. But you 
see Warren, he was a legislator, the worst person you can put in as a 
party leader, in any position, is a legislator. 
Morr i s! Why is that? 

Huff : Number one, they're coming from a different place; number- 
two, they don't have the time; three, their perspective is too 
narrow-- in terms of the district, and issues, and everything. It's just 
the wrong cal iber person. It's no reflection on any particular 
individual. And they don't have the stomach to deal with f ac t i on s-- they 
can't handle that kind of problem. That's a cold bath for them. 

Roger was able to--I don't know, there's some way 
Morr i s ! But factions are inherent in the legislative process. 
Huff ; That's different, that's a club. That's a closed, tight club. 
And those people --you might think they're bitter enemies by what they 
said on the floor, in a committeeyou'd go out and find them eating 
together afterwards, the closest of buddies. 

M o r r i s ! Yes, but there are also some of the battles over the 
speaker-ship, and things of that sort. You know, when Unruh steps down 
as speaker. Willie Brown lost the first round, and it was ten years 
before he could work up enough 

Huff ; Well, he had to sell his soul to become speaker, classic 
case . 

Morr i s ; To the Republ icans? 

Huff ; Yes. Don't give me a speaker who had to sell his soul to the 
opposition. They're useless. Really, they're no good. 
Morr i s ; But that's dealing with factions. You may have to-- 
Huff : But that's inter -party factions, and not intra-party 
factions. At least intra-party, supposedly, you're all going in the 
same general direction. You're not going in opposite the other 
factionalism, that's straight wheeling and dealing, buying and selling, 
as far as I'm concerned. You're promised a committee chairmanship for 
your vote . 

Pol i t i cal Ph i 1 osophy and Personal i t i es 

Morr i s : The same year you had Roger resign, you had Pat Brown and 

everybody else, except March Fong CEu]. Was that the year? Anyway, you 

lost a lot of campaigns in '66. 

Huff ; Well , let's see. March Fong wasn't there in '66. She came 


Morr i s ; No. I quess she was still in the legislature. She came in 

with Jerry [Brown], several years later. 

Huff ; Yes. She came in with Jerry, Unruh, and Cory. That bunch. 


Nor r i s ; Were there some conferences, or efforts to pick up the 

pieces, and make some long-range plans for the party. 

Huf f : I was out of it at that point. 

Nor r I s ; Nobody came and wept on your shoulder, and said, what are we 

go ing to do? 

Huf f : No. they didn't need my advice. 

Morr i s ; Thinking alonq the business as a boy scout model 

Huff ! What do you call a "boy scout"? 

Mor r i s : Well , the boy scout troop, 1 iterally. You know, in 

organizations like that there's an effort to develop some leadership 

for next year. Were there any efforts along those 1 ines? You know, 

Roger must have had some thought for the future. He didn't want to be 

there forever, and Don might have thought that he didn't want to be 

there forever . 

Huf f ; Don expected to be there forever. 

Morr i s : D i d h e ? 

Huf f ; Well , that's a throwaway remark. But yes, as long as he was 

around, he expected to be one of the shakers and movers. And I think, 

rightly so. But he was a pro, and Roger was an amateur --in the sense 

that one was paid, and the other wasn't paid. Roger was a pro in his 

own right, in his own sense, by virtue of knowledge, expertise, and 

t i me spen t . 

I really can't respond to the thinking of par ty-1 eadersh i p 
building. There was kind of a continual 'by-guess and by-gosh' basis 
back in my days. I want to say 'by-guess and by-gosh' because I don't 
want to give it any patina of being very scientific. It was 
opportunistic in terms of who emerged, and I think one of Roger's 
unique contributions was recognizing, and giving the opportunity for 
people to emerge as leaders. He was never insecure. He never felt that 
he had to be 'it', and that he had to have it all. That was the real 
secret to it. A Jesse Unruh cannot tolerate the emergence of any other 
leadership. So the people around him are all toadies, they're all just 
yes-men. They have to do what he says, and he decides. Anybody who 
emerges is a threat. That's a difference in style of leadership. 

You know, I've seen it in the executive branch, also. My 
theory of management was, I ought to be able to walk away, and the 
place runs. It couldn't, shouldn't, and wasn't dependent on my being 
there. At the same time, I had to provide the standards, and the 
ideals, and the tone is really what you do. (I've seen various 
comments vis-a-vis Reagan and the Iran/contra affair, but nowhere have 
I seen the assertion that he should be held responsible because of the 
standard of expectancy that he set that made it possible for underl ings 
to feel that they were taking a course of action consistent with the 
President's policies and standards.) As a bureaucrat, you don't have 
access to a pencil, or a person, or an office, without another 
department ye a- ing or nay- ing your request. You really have no control 
over anything. You are given a license to sell ideas somewhere else 
[outside the department], and have people buy them [the ideas] in order 
to accomplish the de par tent's mission. I never really realized it, in 
terms of career objectives, that most of life involves selling in one 
form or another. I had always disliked the concept of selling. In fact, 
when I was a kid, trying to sell door to door, I always vowed, that no 
matter what I did, I didn't want to be a salesman. Then I found out 
that, no matter what you did in 1 i f e , you had to be a salesman. If you 
weren't selling commodities, you were selling ideas, or whatever. 


Morr i s : The picture that emerges, is, here's & political party, whose 

reason -for being is to elect people to office. Yet once elected to 

office, those people who are elected to o-f-fice are not on 1 x ungrateful , 

but not very supportive o-f the party that elected them. 

Huff ; Yes. 

Morr i s ; That's fascinating. 

Huff : It's a self-destructive process, basically. The minute you 

win, you start to lose. For one thing, you 

Morr i s ; Candidate or party, or both? 

Huf f : Both. The winner, the governor, reaches out, and he starts 

putting people on the bench that were all party workers and putting 

them into his a dm i n i str t i on , and this type of thing, and you're 

destroying the fabric of the thing that put you there. And you destroy 

it faster than it can regeneratebasically, I think is what happens. 

M o r r i s ; Is that inherent in the system, or is there something that 

cou Id be f i xed? 

Huf f ! I'm not sure it can be fixed. I think it's basically 

inherent. Just the nature of the beast. Of course, you have the 

' Ch i c ago so 1 u t i on ' , wh ere a dm i n i s t .- 1 i v e appointees continue to hold 

party positions, but that's certainly not the right answer to the 

pr obi em . 

Well, Wendell Willkie [1944 Republican presidential nominee] 
characterized it in a different way, in terms of the presidency. When 
you're elected, you have this reservoir of good will --and let's apply 
it to Deukmejian and if your''e going to accomplish anything, you have 
to dip into that reservoir of good will and use it, and when you do, 
you're depleting the reservoir, because it doesn't regenerate itself. 
So you're sowing the seeds of your own destruction by accomplishing 
legitimate objectives, and weakening the whole system. 

Deukmej i an ' s strength today lies in the fact that he has 
barely dipped in in three years into that reservoir and done 
anything. So he's fairly intact. Other than making a big crusade about 
the court, what's he ever come out very strongly for, and can anybody 
really identify him as a crusader, or a pusher, or doer of anything, in 
terms of the public welfare? 

Morr i s ; Is it a parallel?: Reagan came in as governor when he was 
going to cut back on government, and get 

Huf f ; Passed the largest tax b i 1 1 --carr i ed by then State Senator- 
George Deukmejian, incidentally of any governor in the history of 
California. Went to Washington, has incurred a greater debt than all 
his predecessors combined. 

Morr i s ; But you would think that he would have used up that reservoir 
fairly quickly, and yet what did he do he went on to Washington. 
Huf f ; I don't think he used the reservoir. Not very often. From my 
1 imited perspective, I only saw him have to really make a choice, where 
he just couldn't go with his doctrine, a couple of times in eight years 
as governor. One time was on withholding, which was the rock on which 
he stood when he came in. And [Caspar] Weinberger, as director of 
finance, didn't have the guts to tell him the facts of life. It was 
only when Verne Orr [currently secretary of the Air Force] came in as 
Weinberger's successor, and in a matter of days saw where the state was 
heading, and walked in, and laid it all out for the governor. Reagan 
left that meeting white as a sheet, and that's when he said: "The sound 
you hear is the cement cracking around my feet." That's what that was 
al 1 about . 



Nor r I s ! You have a piece of that concrete? 

Huf i ; I have a piece o-f it, yes. 

Morr i s ; Oh, that's wonderful. 

Huf f ; That was a joke really. 

Mor-r i s; No, Ken Hall ? 

Huff ; He was a deputy, or assistant cabinet secretary, and he was 

going over to Finance at the time. When they had his going away party 

all the department directors were invited. He said, "I don't want a 

gift" in fact I used that, when I retired, I used that gimmick in a 

different way. But he reached down and put a carton up by the rostrum, 

and said: "I was cleaning out my desk." And he had something for every 

department director, wih both a little humor in it, and some 

s i gn i f i cance . 

Morr i s ; This he did as assistant cabinet secretary. 

Huf f ; Yes as assistant agency secretary. We had the agencies. He 

was the number two guy in the Agriculture and Services Agency. 

Mr. Huff Meets Governor Reagan 

Huff : I didn't tell you about the meeting of the Reagan 

sess i on . 

Morr i s; That was my next question, I didn't want to lose that. 

Huf f ; Okay. There was an issue. It was a technical issue involving 

income averaging, and the fact that if the law wasn't changed promptly, 

the constitutional change in the legislative salaries was such this 

was when they went up significantly to a new pay-base--that they could 

all have taken advantage of the income averaging provisions unless it 

was statutorily negated. 

And there was a bill , and it was a question of timing--we 
were up against April 15 [the tax filing deadline], and the bill had to 
be in and chaptered [filed, logged and numbered by the secretary of 
state after being signed by the governor] before the tax deadline for 
it to apply to the prior tax year . So I got a cal 1 from somebody in the 
governor's office, that said, you know, in twenty minutes we're going 
to have a meeting of the legislative leadership over this bill, and 
could I come over and attend the meeting? I said, fine. To me, 
legislative leadership meant both houses, both parties, the whole bit. 

So I go over there. In the old days, when Pat [Brown] was 
there, we all had easy access into the governor's office. You could 
roam in, and they didn't have all this security. Under Reagan 
everything was very tight security, and the big office that Pat used 
was turned into kind of a board room, with this huge table, and 
high -backed chairs all around it. And the small private of ice that Pat 
used to use it had sort of a way you could duck back there which 
would comfortably hold a half dozen people, became Reagan's office. Pat 
used to use it when he had a meeting going in the large office, and 
somebody was in and he had to conduct a second mee t i ng--why , he'd do 

Anyway, I headed over to the governor s office. I go in, an 
this fellow Smith was director of finance a small short, sawed-off 

Morr i s; Gordon Paul Smith? 
Huff ; Gordon Paul Smith. 

Morr i s ; Oh, great. I've never heard a physical description of him. 
Huf i \ Small, sawed off runt, with an ego a mile high you're going 


to get a description 1 ike you've never heard be-fore. Our paths 
converged, and I said, "Are we going to the same meeting?" So we go in, 
we get cleared through into the big room and then into the small back 
room . 

And the governor wa.s sitting there. Nobody told me I was 
go ing to a mee ting with the governor . Th is is -far i y ear 1 y on C i n his 
administration]. Bill Clark [former justice, California Supreme Court; 
former White House aide; currently secretary of the Interior! was the 
governor's executive secretary. He was the second to hold that position 
under Reagan. The governor is sitting there with his feet up on the 
desk, and the Jelly bean Jar was on the table behind him. It's very 
important where the Jelly bean Jar was. It turned out "legislative 
leadership" was only Republican leadership. 
Morr i s ; Let's see, Bob Monagan? 

Huf f ; It was, let's see McCarthy C John ] --maybe Monagan was there. I 
know the guy from Piedmont, who became protocol officer [Don Mulford] 
Morr i s : The redhead with the bad temper. 

Huf f ; Yes, from Piedmont. He was there, and quite a bit of 
staff --Bill Clark. And something was going on upstairs [on the floor of 
the two houses of the legislature], and it was taking a while for 
everybody to assemble. So on a couch let me describe this. The room 
wa.s 1 ike maybe this big [fifteen feet square], the couch over here 
[against the east window], Reagan's desk is here [toward the center as 
you enter, but on the west side of the room], table behind it with the 
Jelly beans, some chairs spotted around. 

When we finally got everybody in, there were seventeen people 
in the room, but this was before they all arrived. So I'm sitting over- 
he re [northeasterly, against the wall] and Dave Doerr , who was chief 
consultant to the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee, and a 
Democrat--he and I ended up being the only Democrats in the room. And 
some staffer came in by the side [west] door, this side door, over 
here, sort of behind the governor, and he reaches into the jelly bean 
Jar, and takes a Jelly bean. And Gordon Paul Smith is sitting over 
here, on the couch [against the east window], and he gets up, and he 
gets sort of in a position like this [knees bent, head cocked up], with 
his big Jaw out, and he says, "Toss me one." 

So this guy is tossing a jelly bean over the governor's head, 
and Smith is trying to catch it with his mouth. Well, he did that about 
three times before he made the catch. And I'm sitting there saying (to 
myself), "This is how this administration is being run?" Because it was 
my first insight, the first time I'd ever sat in on one of his 
[Reagan's] meetings. 

Well, finally everybody got there. Bill Clark, big tall guy, 
arms folded, standing against the wall he opened the meeting. 
Morris: There's no more room to sit down, so he's standing against 
the wal 1? 

Huff: Yes, I think that was it--well, he was standing, anyway. But 
there's seventeen people packed in this place. He opens the meeting by 
saying, "Okay, Martin, you tell us what the problem is." [laughs] 

Nobody told me I was going to be thrown the ball, briefing 
the governor and the whole business! So I did, you know, and explained 
why the issue was critical, and the whole business. And then we got 
into a terrible kind of situation. In the state constitution there s a 
provision that emergency legislation requires a two-thirds vote of both 
houses on an 'urgency clause' that states why the legislation must go 


into effect immediately. The kicker was that the Personal Income Tax 
was exempted -from this rule. 

Senator McCarthy -from Mar i n , a veteran Republican leader in 
the upper house, was sitting there, and timing was critical or rather, 
the urgency question, because it involved the Democrats, and how many 
votes were needed, and whether you're going to get two thirds, and all 
this kind of business. 

I don ' t recall how it all came about, but I started to make 
the point that it didn't require an urgency clause. McCarthy didn't 
know the rules, he didn't know the constitution, so, in effect, he was 
calling me a liar. And I couldn't dispute a leader of the Republican 
party in front of the governor, and all that. I didn't feel that was 
the seemly thing to do. But Dave Doerr jumped in as an independent 
source, and he confirmed that I was correct. 

But this is where to me it was interesting. Always before, 
under Pat Brown, when we got into one of these situations, we were 
right there through the decision. We reached a point in that meeting 
--Doerr and I were sent packingand then they stayed back and made the 
decision. And there wasn't anybody in the room that knew very much 
about what they were doing. That told me something about how that 
administration functioned. 

Es t ab 1 i sh i n Q I n c ome Tax U i t h h o 1 d i no 

Huff ; On withholding, I could write a whole book. Someday I'll 
write the book on withholding Cof state income tax], because that was 
the most spectacular example of how the bureaucracy can function when 
it has to, and with the right leadership which was me. But the key to 
that was in the first place, withholding had failed by one vote the 
previous year. Now Reagan had thrown in the sponge. But politically he 
was in a very difficult position to do anything very overt. From an 
administrative point of view, I was in a real bind. We had a computer 
that couldn't handle withholding 
Mor r i s : This is after withholding has passed? 

Huff ; No, no. Withholding hadn't passed at all. We had a computer 
that couldn't handle it, we had a physical facility that couldn't 
handle it. Two biggies. And actually, to make the conversion on the 
computer we had to go from what was called "DOS" to "Big OS", which is 
computer jargon. We could get some equipment temporarily to get us over 
into that mode, but we were still going to have to have six months lead 
time to get the equipment we actually needed. So that was two computer 
equipment changes, and a new facility. 

Politically, they [the administration] were not in any 

position to budget for any of this. We did it all with mirrors, but the 
reason I was able to do it with mirrors is, I got a private audience 
with His Nibs, Ronald Reagan. I 1 a i d ou t the problems, got General 
Services and Finance and all the powers that be to understand where the 
governor was coming from. But there were no fingerprints, and nothing 
in writing. I was in effect told, go do it. 

Morr i s ! That's interesting that, once having made the decision, he 
didn't balk at what needed to be done to implement it. 

Huf f ; Well, as a bureaucrat, I could have sat on my duff, and said, 
until there's a law, we can't do a thing. Of course, I would have been 
the goat when the law was enacted, and I couldn't put it into effect 


i nstan t 1 y . 

We had to order paper eight months in advance --neck out on 
that. We did the computer thing. We went through two generations of 
compu ter s--unp 1 ug , plug, tw .e. Very gutsy business. We got the rental 
of a suitable facil i ty out at Aerojet [in suburban Sacramento]. They 
were hurting at the time, nationally, on defense contracts, and we 
negotiated the cheapest lease the state had negotiated in 20 years, and 
hasn't repeated since then. But it had to be a military secret. For 
one, because of the political problems, and the other, because it was 
the only standing facility in Sacramento that could handle the job. If 
Ae r o j e t k n ew t h a t we were in that kind of p os i t i on , the y d h av e jacked 
the price way up . 

We actually had a better proposition, which is a whole other 
story, which was to put it out at the old fairgrounds. I don't know if 
you know about that. The state had the property, it was an ideal 
location because it was in a low income area, and we were the largest 
user of temporary help in Sacramento. We could not get the city ot 
Sacramento to go along with the required zoning change, because, they 
said, it would be 'piecemeal' development; it was a concept they 
weren't used to. So we got nailed on that. This left us with the 
Aerojet thing. We negotiated that. 
Nor r i s i You negotiated that and-- 

Huf f ; Literally, in the middle of the night. Aerojet and General 
Services. It took all three of us, and I was over at General Services 
with the Aerojet representative who was authorized to sign off on 
behalf of the company. We started in the afternoon. At five o'clock, 
the General Services attorney working on the contract disappeared on 
us. We discovered that he had gone home! We made him come back because 
we'd reached agreement, and everybody that had authority to sign was 
there. Then it was a case of getting i t al 1 in writing. And I said no 
one leaves until this thing is signed off, we are in agreement, and 
everyone can do it. If we come back tommorow, somebody will come up 
with another wrinkle. And I had people standing by at my shop to run 
the press, to turn out a notice to our people the next morn i ng--wh i ch 
we did. They ran at eleven o'clock at night, and we had a piece of 
paper on everyone's desk the next morning tell ing them that, in six 
weeks, we would be moving. This was a major shock, and we didn't want 
the employees to hear about it first either by rumor or through the 
med i a . 

We dismantled a small hospital out at Aerojet, because that's 
where we had to put the computer, and did all the remodel ing and 
everything (except the executive areaand that's another story), and 
moved in five or six weeks from the day we signed that contract. 
Mor r i s : This was before the concrete had cracked around Reagan's 

Huff : Oh, no. The concrete already cracked, but the [legislative] 
bill was still working its way. This was in May. The bill was signed 
December 7th or 8th. Right around Pearl Harbor Day. In the middle of 
the Christmas rush we had to notify this is the spectacular part of 
the story. There were some four hundred thousand employers in 
California. Every one of them had to get a forty-eight page booklet 
with tables, and instructions, and everything, on how to do all this. 
That was part of ordering the paper. This thing has a lot of facets to 
it. We worked very closely with the state printer on it every step of 
the way. In fact, we took it out of the Department of Employment's 


hands, because they had a piece of the action, and theoretically the 
booklet was coming out o-f their shop, but that's a whole other story. 
But they couldn't fight their way out of a paper bag, and 
Morr i s ; Employment has its own print shop that does jobs? 
Huff : No, I mean, they had a piece of the law, in terms of the way- 
payroll deductions were handled. It was all reported through them. So, 
theoretically, the booklet was theirs, but it was, basically, our law, 
so we just took it out of their hands. They were really bent out of 
shape . 

We got hold of the post office, the regional office, and we 
got them to put in the postal bulletin that comes out every month, I 
guess, saying, that sometime down the road, we don't know when, there 
will be this mass mailing, bulk mailing. You are to treat it as 
''yellow-tag-' mail (the equivalent of first class mail handling) 
whenever you get it. We had no idea that it was going to hit in the 
middle of the Christmas card rush, but we had laid that foundation. 

The feds you can't mandate withholding to the feds, you have 
to negotiate a contract with them to withhold state taxes from the 
federal employees in California. I had to fly an attorney back to 
Washington, and negotiate this contract, so we'd be ready -for that. If 
we had had any idea this thing was going to run down this close--. The 
state was on the verge of going belly-up cash-f 1 ow-w i se . What had 
happened in '58: when Pat Brown came in, they had started a lot of tax 
reform proposals, and a lot of them dealt with accelerating cash flow. 
But the personal income tax revenues, you got on April 15th and 
thereabouts plus two prior installments from high income people who 
normally had to estimate for the feds. Politically the Brown 
administration had made a judgment not to push for withholding in ''59. 
It was a wrong political judgment; if they had gotten it in, it 
wouldn't have been a problem. But it became a major pol i t i cal issue 
from ''5?, all the way through enactment in '70. 

Cash-flow-wise, that was one of the main problems. The budget 
was in balance, but the timing of the receiving of the money was not 
good, and they'd done everything else possible. Withholding was the 
last thing, and it was a major piece of cash. The controller was 
getting ready to register war-ran ts--he was actually getting the 
mechanism ready to go, it was that close. [Registering warrants is a 
borrowing procedure whereby the banks are asked to honor the warrants, 
i .e. checks, issued by the state when it is short of cash. The warrants 
are backed up by the state's promise to redeem them at a later date and 
with interest. This is a device used only in dire circumstances, and 
carries with it a lot of negative political mileage for the 
administration forced to do so. In addition, the state's credit rating 
would certainly be lowered, thereby raising the cost of borrowing. 
California had not registered warrants since the depths of The Great 
Depression in the thirties.] 

We identified 34 entities that accounted for a third of the 
covered employees in the state, including the Bank of America computer 
service center that handled the payroll for about ten thousand 
different employers around the state. We identified the person in each 
one of those entities that was personally responsible for implementing 
withholding if it was enacted. And we assigned one person in our 
department to each one of those persons on a one to one basis and we 
kept those people informed as the bill went through. We sent them 
everything we could, and whenever something happened, we'd get on the 


horn and tell them, hex, this is what's going. 

At the last minute, in the last week, on Monday, they added a 
tax bracket changed all the tables. It would have taken us three 
normal working days to implement that change. We learned about it at 
four o'clock and we stayed up all night re-jigger ing the tables so that 
they would be ready to go to print the next day. The next day, the 
committee dropped back to the original brackets. We'd stayed up all 
night tor nothing. The other side of" the coin was that i 4 we hadn't 
stayed up and the additional bracket had been left in, we'd been in the 
soup getting the booklets printed. 

Nor r i s ; Oh, dear. I hope you hadn't thrown out the earl ier 
workshee t s . 

Hutf ; No, it was all in 'camera-ready' form, so there was no 
problem. The basic problem was that we were running out of time. It was 
already December and if enacted, all employers in the state would be 
mandated to implement withholding on their employees as of January 1, 
and it was our job to get the information to them as quickly as 
possible so that: 1. they could implement in as timely fashion as 
possible; 2. the state would start benefiting from the much needed 
cash-flow; and, 3. so that the FTB and I wouldn't be the 'goat'. On 
Wednesday night we reached the point of no return. We had everything 
ready, but the bill still had not passed. We had it all ready, and it 
was actually sitting on the presses the presses were ready to roll. 
And if we waited any longer, in terms of these booklets, we couldn't 
get them out in time. Time had run out. 

I went to the nearest pay phone, put a dime in the machine, 
took a deep breath, and dialed the printing plant, and said, "Turn on 
the presses and let them roll." <The deep breath was because if 
anything went wrong, if the bill didn't pass, I could be held 
personally liable!) The next morning the assembly passed the bill, and 
they sent it over to the senate just before lunch. The senate had just 
recessed. The president pro tern had just announced that the legislators 
could QO to lunch. (They had been waiting around all morning for the 
bill to come over from the assembly.) As soon as he got the word the 
bill was on its way, the pro tern sent the sergean t-at-arms out to pull 
everyone back. I called my shop I have to stop here. 

We had these booklets coming off the press. The first bundles 
we had hand delivered by car to all of our district offices in the 
stateabout 13 district offices. But everybody who delivered was also 
a trainer. So we sent these trainers out to the district offices, and 
then as they worked their way back to Sacramento they stopped and 
trained the district staffs in the new procedures. The booklets and the 
whole operation was under embargo until the bill was actually passed by 
the legislature. We also shipped an embargoed bundle of the bookets 
back to Washington so they could get a head start on implementation. 

Ok ay ^ we're back to the" sen ate. I called, and I said, don't 
anybody go to lunch. The 34 'entity messengers' were on 
alert stand-by. I sat up in the gallery, and they had gotten all the 
senators back, and they called the roll. And when the clerk started 
ripping the tally sheet off, and turned around he had to face up to 
the pro tern, who was on a higher level and he announced the vote in a 
sot to voice to the pro tern, so that the pro tern could then announce it 
to the body, I took off 1 ike a shot because that was i t ! I scooted up 
out of the gallery to Alan Post's office [legislative analyst] which 
was just down the hall. Previously, I'd gone down and told his 


secretary that at some point I may want to come in and use the phone, 
and not ask permission or anything. And I did, I just went chunking in 
there, and I made my phone-call, and I said, "Go!". 

This was just be -fore lunch. By one o'clock everyone of those 
thirty-four people responsible -for implementing withholding -for their 
employers had a copy of the booklet in their hands. The private 
sec tor --by one o' clock. By that afternoon the booklets were going into 
the mail, by the next morning, Thursday morning, all o-f them were in 
the mail - over four hundred thousand 48 page booklets. The bill hadn't 
even been signed. It was a complex bill 

Nor r i s : Who in the governor's office were you coordinating-- 
Huf f ; That's a whole story too. I'm working with the governor's 
staff; the bill had to go through engrossing, enrolling [a proofing 
process] and all that kind of business. The governor wasn't even in the 
state! He was in New York receiving a sports award. 

The 'feder ales'' would not officially do anything until they 
had a copy of the chaptered bill. They would settle for a facsimile 
sent over the telephone lines. This was in the early days of the 
machines that you could transmit [telecopiers] there weren't very many 
of them around, but they had one in the governor's Washington office. 
It was a small machine [about 9"xl4"x4"]. We, also, had the three hour 
time difference to deal with. 
Nor r i s ; The person in Washington. 

Huff ; In Washington. In Sacramento, we then arranged with the 
governor's office for us to have access to their machine, so we could 
transmit from our end. 

Morr i s ; In the middle of the night? 

Huf f ; After hours. Okay. We arranged to meet the governor in Los 
Angeles at the airport to sign the bill. He walked off the breezeway, 
and we had tables set up, press, and everything, and he signed the 

Morr i s ; Are you there? 

Huf f ; I'm there. I made an inadvertent mistake I didn't realize 
what I was doing. There's an LA Times newspaper photo with me right 
behind the governor. The authors of t L ~ bill, Gonzales, and everybody 
surrounded--. When they printed the picture the legislators got cropped 
out, and I was still there, [laughs] That was bad. I didn't realize 
what was going on. 

But it's not law when the governor signs it. Not very many 
people understand that the governor's signing does not enact a bill 
into law. It has to be 'chaptered'. Chaptering is done by the secretary 
of state. The secretary of state is geared--when alerted properly to 
chapter a bill any day of the week, twenty-four hours a day. They have 
somebody assigned to open up the office, enter the bill , and assign it 

the next sequential number, called a chapter and that's what makes it 

law, that act. <The chapter number and the legislative session in which 
it was passed represent the permanent source reference to that law, 
even after it is incorporated into one of the codes.) 

All right, a little aside. The treasurer was this gal [Ivy 
Baker Priest, then treasurer of Califonia and formerly treasurer of the 
U.S. under Eisenhower], who was making a big fuss here we'd done all 
this, you know, we'd moved the whole establ ishment, gone through two 
computer upgrades, printed all this stuff, all without any written 
authorization, and she was making a big fuss about spending nine 
hundred dollars for ads in the New York papers for some bonds in 


connection with the whole business (for cash management t > . And she 
wouldn't do it, because it wasn't law xe t . 

To this day I think she may have died she still-- 
Morr i s; This is the California treasurer, or the US 
Huf f : Yes, treasurer of California. To this day, she doesn't 
understand that she was snookered, because she actually authorized the 
ads after the governor signed it, but before it was chaptered. It 
still wasn't law. [laughs] So that's just a vignette. 
Morr i s ; That's a marvelous tale. 

Huff : We got it chaptered at six o'clock, at night --we had to fly 
back here and get it chaptered. Then we transmitted a copy of the 
chaptered bill, in the middle of the night, to the governor's staffer 
in Washington at his home. CThe staffer had carried the machine home so 
that he wouldn't have to hang around the office for an indeterminate 
time.) At nine o'clock the next day, the staffer walked it over to US 
Treasury, and delivered it. But those people really had already- 
started, because we'd been back, negotiated the agreement, and sh i ped 
them the booklets in advance. They were really roll ing, but they 
couldn't officially do it until they received the copy of the chaptered 

Actually those booklets were in everybody's hands before it 
was law. We got some complaints on how they got the booklet so fast. 
But other than that, everybody just took it all for granted. It just 


The Legacies of Roger Kent and Don Bradley 

Morris: Why don't we end up with a 1 ittle piece about what the 
1 egac i es have been of Don Bradley and Roger Kent. What of their ideas 
are still useful, and might be helpful to people now thinking of 
becoming active in politics, either as pro or volunteer? 

Huff ; Don's greatest contribution, actually, was finding people and 
developing them, in terms of the p i ck-and-shove 1 staff type people. The 
list is legion of people that he brought on and trained. That process 
isn't happening, as far as I know. 

Morr i s ; Is there still an executive director of the central 
c omm i 1 1 e e ? 

Huff : I couldn't even tell you. 

Nor r i s ; There was one letter I came across, by a man named Jack 
Tomlinson. Is he one of Don's proteges? 

Huff: He's one of them, sure. He was, also, very close to Don on a 
personal basis. Jack is an attorney, and handled legal matters for both 
Don and Roger . 

Another one of them is the chairman of the Political Science 
Department at UC Davis. 
Morr i s- : Cos t an t i n i ? 
Huff ; Ed Costantini. 
Morr i s ; He was a staff -per son? 
Huff ; He was one of the bright young boys. 

Dick Day, became a judge [Sonoma County Municipal Judge], and 

now he's back to practising law. Jerry Brown appointed him and then he 
1 ost the e 1 ec t i on , 

Bernard Teitelbaum is now a high -pa id lobbyist. A oun -for 
hire. I'm sure he operates by his own set of standards, but as an 
outside observer, I -Find it hard to see what principles he goes by. 
From a remark he made, I gather his wi-fe [Rita Gordon] acts as a break 
on the acceptance of some clients. Un -fortunately, I tend to divide the 
lobbysists into the ' black hats' and the -'white hats''. This is not 
completely -fair. A lot o-f them wear ''grey hats''! Specifically, in 
fairness to Bernard, he does have a so-ft heart. He was the top 
contributor in helping Don's grandson [John B. G. Bradley, age 10, a 
member o-f the San Francisco Boys Chorus] attend the Great Woods music 
camp this summer in Massachusetts with the Pittsburgh Symphony. I can 
safely say, that young John wouldn't have made it to camp without 
Bernard' s help. 

Jim Keene was the publ ic relations flack and media man. He 
was a key staffer for Don during campaign times. 

Chuck Bos ley was a staffer that wound up in Washington and 
has served as an aide to a number of Congressmen. 

Louise Ringwalt was Roger's secretary for years. Her version 
of Roger's signature was accepted as authentic. When Roger actually 
signed a letter himself, everyone thought it was forged! Louise ended 
up in Washington for a number of years, retiring to San Clemente from 
Alan Cranston's staff. 

Of course, Van Dempsey was unique. He represented the 
continuity. The others came as young guys, right out of graduate 
school. Whatever attracted them was more transitory, and then they 
would move on to something else. 

Mor-r i s : Did they walk in the door, and say, hey, I'd like to work on 
this year ' s gu be r n a t or i a 1 c amp a i gn ? 

Huff : They'd come anyway you could think about. Somethimes they'd 
just be working somewhere on a campaign, and somebody would find them, 
you know. That was part of it, was being able to recognize, and pick 
somebody up, and put them to work. But Van was part of the on -go ing 
con t i nu i ty . 

Morr i s ; Older than Don? 

Huff ; No, he wasn't older, he was younger than Don. He was my 
v i n tage . 

Morr i s ; You mentioned last time that Man came out of the labor 
un i ons . 

Huff: Yes, UAW [United Auto Workers]. 

Nor r i s ; Were other people who came in, were working contacts 
Huf f ; We 1 1 , from time to time, but Van was unique. And part of his 
uniqueness, of course, was that he had his own independent income, 
which few knew, but he wasn't dependent during the hard, hungry times. 
He didn't have to scurry off someplace, and earn some bread. 

That was Don's to me that, plus his pol itical sagacity, and 
ability to put campaigns together, and the whole thing. 
Morr i s : Did he and Roger usually think alike on an issue, or did 

Huf f : They were like that [fingers held together]. They could 
disagree, and they could argue, but they didn't clash. I can't even 
think of a specific major disagreement. I'm sure there were, but that 
just wasn't one of my problems. Its just a strange kind of team 
situation, with invisible bonds, and things just kind of went together. 


Hard to explain it. It was kind of a unique phenomenon. 

Morr- i s ; We 1 1 , it sounds 1 ike it was very productive, and very 

sat i sf y ing, wh i 1 e it was go i ng on . 

Huff : Yes. Roger 1 tfiink we've pretty well covered what his 

contribution was but he was a unique leader. Everybody loved him, I 
think, literally loved the man. He had a lot o-f strange personal 
characteristics, which partly made him lovable too, I guess. We called 
him the Glorious Leader, G.L. Have you heard that one? 
Morr i s : No I haven't. That's 1 o v e 1 y . 

Huff : G.L. And he named me G.T., I was the Glorious Treasurer. We 
were the only two Gs , G.L. and G.T. But he was Glorious Leader to 
everybody--! was just G.T. to him. That wasn't a general thing, that 
was just private between the two o-f us. Al tho I have never smoked 
(except the second-hand stuff from 'smoke-filled rooms'!!) somewhere I 
have a cigarette lighter given to me by Roger inscribed with the 
initials G.T. 

I was one of those who spoke at Roger's memorial service. 
Those remarks sum up how I feel about Roger and his contribution to the 
democratic process, [copy of remarks attached]. 

C1 os i no Though ts 

Huff: Another little incident: I sort of got a reputation of being 
a resource person, I guess, is the best way to describe it. Somehow or 
other, whenever they needed something, I was able to come up with the 
appropriate document in the trunk of the car, or something. I don't 
know how it all happened, but I would have the bill , or a copy of the 
Constitution, or the code, or whatever was needed. Have you heard of 
Bill Or rick ? 
M o r r i s. : Y e s . 

Huf f ; Okay. William H. Orr i ck W.H.O. Another side story there, was 
. wi th--are you fami 1 i ar wi th Mar bury v Madison? Back in-- 
Morr i s ; I recognize it as one of the landmark decisions. I can't tell 
you what i t says . 

Huf i ; Okay. That had to do, basically, with the outgoing President 
[John Adams] and the Secretary of State [James Madison], and 
nominations, and whether the nomination of an outgoing president--! 
can't give it to you in great precision it got into a dispute as to 

whether this gu> . Madison was Secretary of State, and Mar bury was the 

nominee, and Madison refused to deliver the commission, but Adams was 
already, technically, no longer president. Something like that. 

William H. Or rick's nomination [to federal district court] 
was, I believe, Nixon's last official act. Or rick was a Democrat. How 
would Richard Nixon be appointing a Democrat as a judge? There was an 
unwritten rule in California, because we had two Democratic 
senatorsCranston and Tunney. This meant that you had to have an 
arrangement, or things wouldn't run too smoothly. So the ar ran omen t , 
with the Nixon White House, was that every third judge in California 
was suggested for nomination by Alan Cranston. 
Morr i s; Not Cranston together with Tunney? 

Huff : Well, theoretically with Tunney, but Cranston was the senior 
senator. At that point in time, Or rick was it. And Or rick's name had 
been processed, he had been nominated by Nixon, and he took the oath in 
the middle of the night, because the nomination was made the day of 


Nixon's resignation. 

So they swore him in in the middle of the night to avoid the 
Mar bury v Madison situation. And then -few really knew about the actual 
swear i ng~ i n--bu t a week later they had a public, pro -forma swearing-in 
ceremony . 

Morr i s ; How did we get over onto that? 

Hu_ff : Oh, because o-f thisthis goes back to the ''60 campaign. 
Or rick was one o-f the big advisers, and he always used to call me --he 
has a very -funny voice, and very loud, and a sound sense of humor and 
he always used to call me a "student o-f the Election Code", something 
1 ike that. Right in the middle o-f the campaign, and I'm sure Stevenson 
had no notion of any of this, one of his people showed up with an 
attache case full of cash, from labor. And he was bringing it out here 
to be -'laundered', and he wanted to carry it back Cas being from 
Cal i f or n i a 3 . [ 1 aughs] 

Morr i s ; How does Orr i ck fit in to it? 

Huff : Orrick had a lot to say about this particular incident, as 
did I, since I was the treasurer. He was one of those in on the 
decision as to how to respond. It was an agonizing thing, to see all 
that cash. Because the offer was, we were to get a piece of the action, 
i n 

Morr i s ! For your doing the laundry? 
Hut f ; Yes, just a "handling charge", and this kind of business. 

We 11, this rather h i gh level messenger , who shal 1 rema i n 
nameless, is carrying all this cash in his attache case. Stevenson is 
in town, and there was a big rally down at Washingon Square on Columbus 
Avenue you now, where the big Cathol ic Church is located. 
Morr i s : Right. 

Huff The plaza was just jammed with thousands and thousands of 
people. We'd already refused the request and sent the messenger- 
packing. We thought he went to the airport, and back to Chicago. We 
left 212 Sutter, and went down to see Stevenson, and here's this guy 
wandering around with the attache case full of cold cash, in this 
crowd, you know. 

Morr i s ; I remember going to that rally. It was a very sizable--. 
Huf f ; That's the closest I ever came to seeing anything of an 
unsavory nature in my pol itical career. 

Morr i s ; Really. With all the reports one hears how unethical... 
Huff ; Yes. 

Morr i s ; They kept them away from you, or you think they're not as 
common as advertised? 

Huff : A 1 ittle of both. I had to deal with a few bums, but that was 
just the usual, a big political pressure operation. The small minority 
papers that insisted on our placing large ads in their 'rags'. But it 
was nothing illegal, or anything like that. 

Nor r i s : Fascinating. Well, thank you very much. I've absorbed as much 
as I can today. I think we 

Huff ; I'm glad I got to tell my withholding story. I don't tell it 
very coherently because it's got so many facets to it, and I didn't 
tell the whole story. But it was a very exciting thing. 

Morr i s : I can believe it. It's a really major operation, to create it 
and carry it ou t . 

Huf f ; It was a 'military operation', it really was. I didn't get to 
talk about the time we did Nixon's taxes. That was another one. I only 
held two press conferences in sixteen years: one on Nixon's taxes, and 


one when I announced my prospective resignation after Governor Jerry 
Brown allowed AB 939 to become law without his signature [-fall 19 79], 
[laughs] But on Nixon's taxes we literally met there were only -four of 
us [FTBers] who knew what was going on, because there were all kinds of 
leaks back in Washington with the IRS, and I was determined we weren't 
going to have any leaks in our case. We met at airports Sacramento, LA 
and Oakland with Nixon's tax attorney negotiating for him. And we had 
to get a waiver, signed by Richard and Pat Nixon, to make all of this 
public when the assessment notices were finally issued, because of the 
law on confidentiality and the desire of both parties to have 
everything on top of the table. I still remember sitting in the LA 
airport looking at the signed waiver, and they hadn't included all the 
years that they wanted covered for public release. 

This attorney was not a political type at all. He was a tax 
attorney, and it was very difficult for him to 'climb the mountain' 
into the White House to get the right people to get anything done. When 
we said, "Hey, the waiver doesn't cover it all," he was just shattered, 
because he knew what he had to do. So he went back, and he had to get 
those two signatures, again, to do it right. And he did, but when we 
met again, he said, "I've got a story to tell you." He said, "You won't 
believe it, but when I tried to call my contact at the White House, I 
didn't get through to him. Then he called back, and I wasn't there, and 
the two secretaries were talking to each other. My secretary was 
explaining to that counsel's secretary, in the White House, what the 
problem was. And the secretary back there said, when it got down to the 
date, 'Do we date this back to the other date?'." C laughs] [One of the 
Watergate 'incidents' involved the backdating of a document with 
Nixon's signature that was duly notarized by a California notary 
public. The then Secretary of State Jerry Brown used that event to 
'shoehorn' himself into the Watergate affair in order to develop some 
publicity f or himself.] 

Other vignettes missed include: 

-My sitting in for Roger Kent on Cap Weinberger's publ ic tv 
panel and debating the 1960 Democratic reappor t i onmen t act with a 
Republ ican assemblyman and the Re publ ican national comm i t teeman from 
Cal i f or n i a ; 

-My appearance before the House [U.S. House of 

Representatives] judiciary sub-committee on the Willis multi state 
tax at i on bill; 

-The Hale Champion [Governor Pat Brown's Director of Finance] 
kidnapping and my relation to it; 

-An early meeting on the concept of revenue sharing where I 
sa.t in Governor Pat Brown's place in a Chicago session with Michigan 
Governor Romney and Missouri Governor Hearns; 

-My George Wallace [Governor of Alabama] incident at the 1966 
Conference of Governors; 

-My participation on the floor of the State Assembly in the 
first committee of the whole meeting since adoption of the State Water 
Plan (subject: income tax withholding: time: early in the first Reagan 
term) ; 

-My luncheon i n Wash i n g t on , DC w i t h Mu r r ay Ch o t i n e r , Nix on ' s 
I e v i 1 genius'. 

-The U.S. -U.K. treaty battle in the U. S. Senate where the 
FTB ultimately defeated the efforts of the British House of Commons, 
three presidents (Nixon, Ford and Carter), the U. S. State Department, 


the U. S. Treasury Department, both Cal i forn i a I J . S. Senators, and 
Governor Jerry Brown; 

-The interview in my office with a British Member of 
Parliament and the chairman o-f the UK Board of Inland Revenue; 

-The ''ghost voting' scandal with respect to AB 939 (1979 
General Session) and Governor Jerry Brown allowing the bill to become 
law without his signature, resulting in my calling a press conference 
to resign as executive officer; 

-My interesting consulting assignments: with the government 
of Mexico; in opposition to the State of Montana; for the New York 
State Legislature; and, as an expert witness in court on behalf of the 
State of Texas; and, 

-My four year role in supporting Chief Justice Rose El izabeth 
Bird, including two and a half years as treasurer of her campaign 
c omm i 1 1 e e . 

I wouldn't trade my political and governmental experiences 
for anything, but in the years I have remaining, my hope is to be 
involved in new and different types of activities. If my first seven 
years in 'retirement' are any indication, that hope will be fulfilled. 



TAPE GUIDE Martin Huff 

Date of Interview: April 2, 1986 
tape 1, side A 
tape 1, side B 
tape 2, side A 
tape 2, side B 

Date of Interview: April 23, 1986 

tape 3, side A 

tape 3, side B 

tape 4, side A 

tape 4, side B 

tape 5, side A 

tape 6, side B 








Tax collector Huff 
politicians' enemy No.l 


If you took a poll of legislators these days, the executive 
officer of the state Franchise Tax Board, Martin Huff, 
would win the title of "politicians' enemy number one" hands 
down. No one has ever questioned Huff's honesty, integ 
rity, efficiency or administrative ability'. Yet, the Legisla 
ture came extremely close to putting him out of a job at the 
end of this year's session, and he is under fire from Governor 
Brown and State Controller Ken Cory, among others. 

Ever since Cory assumed office as state controller, he has 
been maneuvering to remove Huff, and the reasons are not 
entirely clear. The Franchise Tax Board, which administers 
the personal and corporate income taxes, consists of the 
controller, the state director of finance and the head of the 
state's other major tax-collection agency, the Board of 
Equalization. Technically, the three-member board estab 
lishes policies for Huff to follow, but in reality Huff has made 
almost all the decisions on how tax returns should be han 
dled since he took office 14 years ago. 

Huff, then the elected auditor-controller for the city of 
Oakland, was appointed to his present job in 1963 by former 
Governor Edmund G. (Pat) Brown. Huff was virtually given 
the job for life because the law states that he can be removed 
only by a two-thirds vote of the state Senate. The purpose of 
that law is simple to keep the collection of the income 
taxes out of politics. 

The causes of conflict 

For many years, the members of the Franchise Tax Board 
met annually for a quick, formal meeting as required by law 
and left things in Huffs hands the rest of the time. But there 
are some major new factors that have ended the era of non- 
involvement, and one of them is the presence on the board of 
two men who don't like to delegate power: Cory and William 
M. Bennett, chairman of the Board of Equalization. Other 

The income tax. For many years, the personal in 
come tax was a relatively small element of the state revenue 
system. But inflation and the progressive nature of the levy 
have boosted it to the point where one of these days it will 
surpass the sales tax as the state's top revenue producer. In 
the current fiscal year, it is estimated that the income tax 
take will be $4.3 billion. 

Huff's bureaucratic personality and jfo-by-t he- 
book attitude. Over the years, Huff has not made it a point 
to curry favor among legislators. He has remained aloof 
from politics, although he had been active in the Democratic 
Party prior to his appointment. As a tax collector, he doesn't 
bend the rules. "I've been accused of being rigid," he says. 

Carolyn Street wrote about the unitary tax in the Sep 
tember issue of the Journal. 

"I feel I'm flexible within the law, but I don't bend the law. 
People don't like that. They want you to be flexible, and that 
means look-the-other-way if the law infringes on them . . . 
When it comes to business, I don't have any friends." Huff 
has also been scrupulous about keeping tax records confi 
dential. (Despite this, there was a leak 'from his agency sev 
eral years ago that resulted in newspaper stories revealing 
that Ronald Reagan had not paid any income tax in one 

I'ulitiral reform. Under the Political Reform Act of 
1974, Huff has the responsibility for auditing campaign con 
tribution reports. He has taken the job seriously and has 
attempted to audit every filing. This has angered legis 
lators, who feel he is overzealous and anxious to embarrass 
them. This factor, perhaps more than any other, is respon 
sible for the legislative campaign to remove him. And since 
Cory has many friends in the Legislature, it is probably also 
grating on him. 

Kspense accounts. Legislators receive $35 a day in 
expense money during sessions. Huff has called for audits to 

This cartoon is credited with turning the Brown Administration 
around on the advisability of removing Martin Huff from office. 


'Really, Mr. Huff, we're not going to chop off 
vour head: mavha vour arm or a hand: 


'What I resent is being treated like any other 
California taxpayer!' 

determine how much of this per-diem income should be 
taxed by the state. The Legislature passed a bill this year 
making clear that these funds cannot be taxed. 

The unitary tax. Huff is a prime advocate of the 
so-called unitary system of taxation (See "Brown's quick 
switch" in last month's Journal) and was responsible for the 
Governor opposing a United States-Great Britain treaty 
eliminating that form of corporate taxation. That was before 
Brown went to Japan seeking industrial development. Upon 
his return, Brown did a turnabout on the unitary tax and 
accused Huff of supplying him with "flaky data." Late last 
month, Brown retracted his prior stand before Congress 
and said the cost of the treaty to California would be far less 
than the $125 million estimated by Huff. 

The Nixon case. Bennett became upset with Huff 
because the executive officer refused to engage in a wide- 
open investigation of possible state income tax violations by 
Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. 

Strong enemies, few friends 

In short, by merely doing his job and scrupulously trying 
to maximize state tax collections, Huff has made powerful 
enemies and few friends. About his only major public defen 
der has been state Senator Nicholas C. Petris of Oakland, a 
tax specialist and an old friend from Oakland. Petris claims 
he has never heard anyone charge Huff with anything signi 
ficant. He says there are forces in the Legislature who want 
to drop Huff "because of his stand on the per diem problem." 
Cory, Petris adds, has been "plotting and planning to get rid 
of Martin Huff for some time." 

Petris, among others, is convinced that Cory obtained a 
commitment at one point from the Governor to go along with 
a plan that would have the effect of firing Huff. Under this 
scheme, the Franchise Tax Board would send Huff on a slow 
boat to China or almost anywhere else he wanted to go out 

side of California to study tax collection. Meanwhile his job 
would be filled by a temporary executive officer beholden to 
Bennett, Cory and the Governor. (Brown has a vote on the 
board through the Director of Finance, who serves at the 
will of the Governor.) Bennett claims this plan fell apart 
when the Sacramento Bee published a cartoon by Dennis 
Renault showing the politicians (Brown and Cory) clobber 
ing the honest public servant (Huff) because he wasn't doing 
their bidding. Brown may have decided at that point that 
dumping Huff wouldn't be such a wise move after all. 

Petris has been telling anyone who would listen that it 
would be stupid politics to fire Huff because the media 
would make Huff the hero and make legislators look like 
sleazy, money-grubbing politicians. Bennett said the firing 
of Huff would be comparable to Nixon's firing of Archibald 
Cox as Watergate special prosecutor, but Bennett is given 
to dramatization. 

One reason why the Huff puzzle is difficult to unravel is 
that those who want him fired often agree with him on 
specific issues. Cory, for example, has been one of Huffs 
allies on the unitary-tax question. Bennett wanted the 
board to take more power and blasted Huff on the Nixon 
issue but he has defended him to the hilt when others have 
tried to fire him. The Governor, who turned sour on Huff's 
unitary-tax stand, is one of the few politicians who supports 
his audits of campaign reports. 

It is probably the campaign-contribution audits that have 
produced the most difficulty for Huff. The Legislature went 
so far as to put in this year's state budget a provision limit 
ing the amount of audits the Franchise Tax Board could 
undertake. Brown vetoed that language from the budget, 
and Legislative Counsel Bion Gregory offered an opinion 
that Brown's act was unconstitutional because the Governor 
is restricted to reducing or eliminating appropriations. In a 
bizarre legal step, Cory on September 27th voted as a 
member of the Franchise Tax Board to institute action 
against himself as controller, so that the conflict between 
Brown and the Legislature on this point could be adjudi 

Cory, as controller, had been asked by the Legislature to 
withhold funds for the full audits. During the dispute, Sen 
ate Democratic leader David Roberti charged that Huffs 
political-reform division had become "a political police force, 
for which Huff should be censured." Huff subsequently 
raised the issue of expense-account taxation. That, Huff 
said, "was like pouring gasoline on a fire." 

Where the power lies 

Cory has made it clear that he wants Huff's power taken 
back by the board. "At the heart of what's going on here." 
Cory told Huff, "is that it's your function to serve the board, 
not ours to serve you." Huff responds that he realizes his 
power is delegated. "We're trying to do our job . . . What 
authority they delegate, I have. And that's what I have 
problems with. A group of people cannot manage anything, 
they can only set broad policy. There's no battle here; it's a 
one-way attack. All we do is serve the board, and they send 
out confused, conflicting messages." 

One of the problems is that the board has delegated so 
much authority for so long that it is a practical impossibility 
to take it back. Furthermore, the law requires that all meet 
ings with Huff on personnel matters must be held in public. 
And that has turned out to be an important weapon for Huff. 

When Cory goes on the attack, Huff asks for specific com 
plaints. Cory has thus far complained primarily of relatively 
minor matters. At one meeting, Cory accused Huff of chill 
ing a study of Franchise Tax Board operations by the au 
ditor general, a study requested by Assemblyman Willie 
Brown, head of the Lower House revenue and taxation 




committee. The controller said Huff's staff was making it 
difficult for the auditor general's staff to get information, 
but by that time Huff said he had solved all the problems. 
Huff said later that "the charges seemed like small things 
blown way out of proportion, as if he were looking for some 
thing ... He should have complained in a timely manner, 
instead of storing them up like a little kid." He added that it 
was difficult to get feedback "in an atmosphere of pure hos 

The man who often gets put in the middle is the deputy 
director of finance, Sid McCausland, who usually represents 
Finance Director Roy Bell (and thus the Governor) on the 
panel. McCausland claims Huff rarely asks the board for 
"advice and consent" on agency activities. Huff won't give 
board members information on tax returns without written 
justification, and overall security at the agency is very 
tight, according to McCausland. Assemblyman Brown said 
he requested the audit because he couldn't get information 
he wanted on corporate taxation. Governor Brown accused 
Huff of having unitary-tax information locked up in a "black 

Last February, Bennett joined with Cory to chip away at 
Huff's authority over the opposition of Bell and McCaus 
land. The board reclaimed the right to appoint top staff 
members and to examine tax returns, but McCausland 
claims this has united staff members behind Huff. "They 
knowtheir boss is a tyrant," says McCausland, "but they 
also knc . he's consistent and won't pull the rug out from 
under any one of them." 

The Brown Administration went over to the other side 
when Brown started a heavy love affair with the business 
community. Huff has been at war with corporate America 


1 . Title of publication 

2 Dale ol filing. September 15. 1977 

3 Frequency of issue Monthly Number of issues published annually 12 
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I certify that the statements made by me above are correct and complete 

for many years, fighting for every tax dollar he can possibly 
corral. He established field offices in Chicago and New York 
to go after lost taxes from the Fortune magazine top-500 
businesses. The auditor general has estimated that the state 
has collected $17.50 in taxes for every dollar spent on these 
field offices. (Huff says the figure is conservative.) Huff is 
recognized as the national leader in the advocacy of the uni 
tary tax, which the Governor now opposes and multi 
national corporations have long detested. 

Cory's ill-fated attack 

Brown's disaffection with Huff on the unitary tax gave 
Huff's other enemies the courage to act. Cory tried to engi 
neer the "get-Huff move on the board and was surprised 
when it failed. He appealed to Huffs harshest critic up to 
that time, Bennett, and came up empty-handed. Bennett, as 
a consumer advocate, has been at war with the business 
community even longer than Huff. "Brown is going to give 
your head to Cory on a platter," Bennett recalls he told 
Huff, "but I'm going to try to save you." Huff says of Ben 
nett: "I understand where Bennett's coming from. He likes 
publicity. That's how he functions . . . But when it comes 
down to the nitty-gritty, he's in the right corner." 

Failing with Bennett, Cory expected a vote from Brown's 
finance director. According to McCausland, Cory thought 
he had the Administration's backing for a plan to send Huff 
on a long-term trip. Cory later gave McCausland "strong 
vibes that he thought he had a commitment from the Admin 
istration, a commitment he thought had been broken." Was 
there a commitment, and if so was it broken because of the 
Renault cartoon? In any event, Bennett and McCausland 
left Cory out on a limb. And Huff's job was secure at least 
for another few days. 

Legislators then became involved in a variety of moves 
designed to curb Huffs authority or remove him. Willie 
Brown was a key figure. He claims Huff plays too large an 
"adversarial role" in government, and he feels Huff is unco 
operative in providing the Legislature with unbiased fig 
ures on bills when Huffs position differs from Brown's. The 
anti-Huff proposal at one point was inserted into a measure 
providing an exemption from unitary taxation for the 
Arabian-American Oil Company. Primarily through Petris' 
efforts, Huff was saved again. 

During the debate, it became clear that legislators were 
primarily upset about the detailed auditing done by Huffs 
crew on campaign reports. Ironically, Huff had tried to re 
sist the placement of the auditing function in his agency, 
because he knew it would cause him a great deal of trouble. 
But it was given to the Franchise Tax Board anyhow. Petris 
feels that anyone given that function would have been a 
loser, "because he has to deal with 120 prima donnas, not 
counting all the other prima donnas out there who want to 
replace us." 

The chance of survival 

Can Huff survive, and, if so, for how long? Huff says he 
would have left a year ago if he had seen the series of politi 
cal tornadoes coming. Huff claims he doesn't worry about 
what's happening. "I can look at it as a detached observer 
and wonder at all this foolishness. I do the best I can. I sleep 
well at night." 

The fight over Martin Huff is far from over. The Legisla 
ture obtained a new weapon on the last day of the session 
when Assemblyman Dan Boatwright received an opinion 
from the legislative counsel that the two-thirds Senate vote 
required to remove Huff may not be constitutional. Strip 
ped of that special protection, how long can a tax collector 
hold out against the might of the state's political establish 
ment? A 





MARTIN HUFF has been executive 
officer of the California Stare Franchise 
Tax Board, which has responsibility for 
collecting state rexes, since 1963. ho has 
also been a port-rime faculty member or 
the School of Business ond Public Admin 
istration of California State Universiry in 
Sacramento. He formerly served as 
audiror-comptrcller for the city of 

Ediror s Mere This & foe sevenrh ir> o senes of 1 5 
o/ncles exploring Cciiforrna rax issu. Ir. this amcle. 
Mccn Hjff executive officer of the California Store 
Fronct-.ise Tax. Ooartf, to faorures of a sound 
peTcnot iocorn;? rex iaw. uses rN?iTi to ^Aji'jOte 
Colifor-io's pfeseri' sysi?T> oirJ suggesrs spc-dfic 
irrpro-^vr>p.-,rs Th,s series is co-sporwxed tov Coursf", 
by N<?v.-5p3OCT a pfo.ecr of Unive-ity ts.'enyvc . 
Un^c^i^/ cf CC;.?CT.IO, Son Oego. and me California 
Tax rvfcrm Ajv.x-'C-'on Pourooron It 15 furdcd by 
rhe CoiifsfOJO Cw-incil for rh<? H-.-ncntnes m Pbbrc 


Martin Huff 

California's Persona! Income Tax 
Law is confusing, difficuir ro admin 
ister, and unfair. 

In parr, this results from the 
state's policy of selective, bur sub 
stantial, conformity ro the U.S. 
Internal Revenue Code. Like rhe 
federal code, state law has become 
a porchwork of exclusions, deduc 
tions, exemptions, credits, and 
special rares. 

What can we do to reform our 
srare law? idealty, we should forsake 
rhe federal mode!, scrap cur present 
low and design a new one. fseolisrtc- 
ally, we are limited re wording 
within rhe framework of existing lew, 
to make if simpler and more equit 

The first step is ro ouriine rhe key 
fearures of a sound law. 

Ir should be understandable in 
concept end operation. 

Ir should be as simple as 
economic realiries will permit. 

Revisions should be measured 
ogoinsr overall fairness, rax- 
payer understanding and 
relative ease of administration. 

Where there is a conflict 
between fairness ro a particular 
sector and overall fairness, the? 
totter should prevail. 

The second step is to set forth 
some fundamenral tenors. 

There is c need for progressrvity, 
i.e., o scole of increasing mar- 
girol rax rotes as income 
increases ("obility ro pay' '). 

Income Is income. This sro?e- 
menf of the obvious strikes or 
one of the most airicol defects 
in the present system, i.e., rhe 
notion rhar some kinds of 
income should be excluded 
from the tax base. 

Those advocating loopholes 
(preferences) should be re- 
qui r ed ro support rheir cose with 
objective factual information. 

The third srep is ro dispe! two 
myths. One myth is that blind con 
formity to federal exclusions, deduc 
tions, ond exemptions is desirable. In 
reality, conformity con mean 
inequity. The dollar benefits of 
special tax breaks are distributed 
unevenly among taxpayers. The 
result is that a disproportionate share 
of the tax burden is shifted to 
middle- income taxpayers. 

Fur;hermore, conformity usually 
means complexity. The greater the 
number of special provision:, th3 
more difficult it becomes for rcx- 
pay?rs to understand ond comply 
with roe iow and for administrators 
to ioierprei and enforce if. 

The second myth is thar store tax 
law con be used to bolster the 
economy or change society. It is true 
rhar federal tax low. with its high 
rar<?s, may o'fecr taxpayers' econo 
mic df* it.iorv. Rut ColitO'nio s 
perscrxjl income tax rates of 1 to 11 
psrcenr ere too low to induce rax- 
poyers ro alter their choices. When 
taxpayers' atrions are motivated by 
federal law, s : m ; lar stare provisions 
reword those actions with windfall 

Taking these factors into consi 
deration, there ore six reforms that 
would rndse tfv? present low both 
simpler and more equitable. 

First, eliminate preferential treat 
ment of copitoi gains. The capital 
gains provisions contribute the most 
*o the complexiV o f our ?ox laws. 
fhoy ax- cko unfair: they favor 
i^veitme.-r over labor. The person 
wi*h investment income can exclude 


as much as 50 per cent of rhe gain 
from tax. The person with only salary 
income, however, is taxed on every 
dollar earned The amount of tax 
should be a function of ability to 
pay, which is based on the amount 
of income, nor its source. 

Second, include ttonsfer pay 
ments in taxable income, excluding 
that portion previously taxed to the 
recipient. The "obility to pay" of a 
person with a $20,000 income, parr 
of which is from unemployment 
insurance, welfare or social security, is 
the same as that of a person with 
$20,000 income entirely from 

Third, eliminate deductions and 
credits for homeownership, rental, 
and other normal personal expendi 
tures. Activ;rie r ) subsidized through 
special deductions ond credirs range 
from homeownership ro the pur 
chase of solar energy devices. All 
moy be desirable from an economic 
or social standpoint but state per 
sonal income rax low is not a good 
tool for economic or social engineer 
ing. Its purpose should be to gene- 
rare revenue for needed services. 
Taxable income should be reduced 
only by the cost of producing 
income or ihe costs of uncontrol 
lable, catastrophic events which dras 
tically reduce ability to pay. 

Fourth, substitute tax credits for 
deductions. Deductions favor high 
income taxpayers, whereas credirs 
benefit taxpayers equally. 

Fifth, liberalize the income 
averaging provisions. We extract a 
higher rax from persons whose 
income fluctuates greatly from year 
to year. This inequity should be 

And finally, increase rhe breadih 
and number of rax brackets. If 
special tax breaks are eliminared, 
needed revenues can be generated 
at lower rates Taxpayers would nor 
move so rapidly into higher tax 

Adoption of rhe above sugges 
tions would result in a more under 
standable and more equirable Cali 
fornia Persona! Income Tax Law. 

1M- vie-vs evresv.'-d dc not necessr-'V reject Those 
; I** ~,iember$ c' >>> ixx t 1 - c w >-cf -\v hi. ft 

Copyrigh- * 1976 by the Regents of The 
University of California. 

The views e*pre:v?d this Xf cs ore thos? of 
the author; only and do "of r*~:es?or:ly nepxeyx:' *e 
vie..-, of ftie sponsoring or funOing ogenaei & ci n-<- 

Next Veek Perry Shapiro docu-sif. the effccn cf 
inflation on CoWomio s thfee mojor taxes: property. 
lotes. ond income. 



6 June 1906 - 16 May 1980 

Memorial Service 
Kentfield, California 

Roger Kent had class - in a very special way, but he was as comfortable as an 
old shoe. His class was marked by his style, his courage, and his leadership. 
The old shoe mark was evidenced by many things - by the bulging, dog-eared wallet 
he carried while a pile of new ones languished in the bureau at home; by the old 
Plymouth he loved to bounce around in; by the outdated Tux with the crumpled top 
hat that he WOIE gloriously to Pat Brown's first Inaugural Ball; and the most con 
stant symbol of all - that battered old satchel that went with him whenever he 

The first time 1 met that satchel was almost the last time. We were all scramb 
ling out of the airporter upon arrival at the Coronado Hotel for a Democratic 
State Central Executive Committee meeting. I was traveling light with one small 
bag, so offered to help Roger with his gear. I found later that he seldom let 
anyone else carry that particular piece of luggage and I soon discovered why. 
When we reached the hotel desk, in juggling bags, the satchel slipped and hit the 
floor with a clinky thud. The drop was only a few inches, but Roger was on top 
of it in an instant with a look of total consternation on his face. I apologized, 
but was a little bewildered by all the fuss. I'll tell you this. If his precious 
bottled goods had been smashed, I wouldn't be standing here today. 

When I was considerably younger, my standard for 'old age* was measured by those 
who continually talked of the 'good old days'. Well I guess I know how to classi 
fy myself, now, because the fifties and early sixties in Northern California Demo 
cratic politics were indeed the GOOD OLD DAYS - or as Libby so eloquently put it 
in her article on Roger - the Golden Age of Democratic Politics in California. 

The Roger Kent style and motivation can all be summed up in a simple, but very 
hard hitting six word statement that was put into the mouth of an Arabian the 
other night in the TV drama "Death of a Princess". When queried by the reporter 
as to why the Princess had broken out of her customs and traditions in the face 
of a life style that provided every possible creature comfort, he replied, "She 
wanted 'to be rather than to have'". I think that is a very apt characterization 
of what Roger stood for and his philosophy of life. 

Roger and Libby and Don were the nucleus of one of the great political families 
of all time. There was a special ambience to it all. By some sort of conscious 
and natural selection, a group of people devoted to making our political system 
work were brought together. Those who stayed all seemed to share a commonality 
of interest with respect to the issues of the times. For this reason, very little 
energy had to be devoted to arguing the issues within the group. Those who stayed 
were by and large primarily devoted to the political process against a liberal 
philosophical set. Single issue 'types' didn't survive long in that milieu. 

It can all be summed up in one phrase: Our Glorious Leader and the 212 Gang. 
While the old 212 Headquarters has been long gone, and while Roger is newly 
gone in body, they are both with us today and will be for all time. 

Martin Huff 
May 22, 1980 


INDEX Martin Huff* 

Aerojet General Co., 55 
Agriculture and Services Agency, 7 
Alameda County 

politics in, 11. 13-14, 25-26, 32, 

36. 48 

Institutions Commission, 16-17 
Allen, John. 25 

exempt, 7-8 

judicial, 13. 47-48. 59. 60-62 
Arnold. Stan, 24 
automobile emission controls, 

legislation, 12 

ballot measures, initiative, 42-43 

Bank of America, 56 

Bay Conservation and Development 

Commission (BCDC) , 12 
Betts, Bert, 38 
Bird, Rose, 48. 64 
Bjorr.son, Anga, 13 
Black, Hugo, 3-4 
Bosley, Chuck. 60 
Bradley. Don. 10, 28. 30. 37, 50, 


Bradley, John B. G. , 60 
Bradley, Tom, 40 
Brown. Edmund G. f Jr. (Jerry), 13, 

47-48, 60. 63. 64 
Brown, Edmund G. , Sr. (Pat), 1, 9, 

14-15, 24, 26. 28-29, 34, 46-47, 

52. 54 

cabinet, governor's, 7-8. 52-53 
California Democratic Council. 1, 

29-31, 36. 41 
California Republican Assembly. 30- 

campaign finance, 22-23, 27, 34-35, 

38, 62-63 

campaign management, 38-39. 41 
Carpenter, Paul B. , 33 
Chamber of Commerce. 2 
Champion, Hale, 1, 8-15, 46, 83. 
Christopher. George. 2 
civil service, 45-46 
Clark, William P., 53 
Coke, Earl J. . 7-8 
Collier, Randolph, 11 
computers, 55. 56 
Congress, U.S., 12, 25 
constitution, 2, 8, 24, 42-43, 45, 

52, 53 

Copertini, Cyr Mullens. 12-13, 40 
Costantini. Ed, 59 
courts, 47-48 
Cranston. Alan. 30. 31. 36, 43-44. 

46, 61 

crossfiling. 24, 32 
Crown, Bob, 13 

Day, Dick, 59 

Democratic National Convention, 1960, 


California delegation, 14-15, 28- 

Democratic party. Democrats, 7, 19, 

30. 40-42. 47 

*Unless otherwise noted, government entities and locations refer to 




23-24, 26-27 

Democratic State Central Committee. 

1. 20. 27-29. 31, 36, 47 

endorsements, 13-14 

field work, 6-7, 25 

young turks, 11, 21 

finances, 22-23, 27 

southern California, 
Dempsey, Betty, 6 
Dempsey, Van, 6-7, 23. 25, 36, 41, 


Deukmejian, George, 40, 51 
Dieden, Leonard, 48 
Dodge plant, San Leandro, 4-5 
Doerr, Dave, 54-55 

elections, special, 7, 24 

1946. 20. 32 

1948. 19-20, 42 

1952, 29-30 

1954, 25. 30 

1958, 7. 11. 13. 25-26, 38-40 

1960. 13-15, 27-29, 34-35. 62 

1964. 10. 36-37 

1966. 47 

1986. 40 

Employment, Department of, 55-56 
Engle, CLair, 32, 36-37 
Engle, Lu, 32 
environmental protection 

legislation, 12 
Equalization. Board of. 32-33. 44- 

ethics, 2. 7-9. 35, 46. 62, 64 

Gatov. Elizabeth, 23, 28 

General Services. Department of, 8, 


Gonsalves, Joe A., 58 
governor, office of (Edmund G. 

Brown, Sr. ) , 1 
governor- office of (Ronald Reagan), 

8-9, 58-59. Ill 

Governor's Conference, 1966, 1, 9 
Graves, Richard, 25-26 

Hall, Kenneth F. , 52 

Harris, Joseph, 42 

highways, 47 

Holmdahl, John, 13-14. 21 

Houlihan, John, 2, 16 

Huff. Anne. 6. 18. 19, 25. 29. 36. 

41, 43 

Huff sons, 3, 4, 5, 13, 26-27 
Humphrey, Hubert, 1, 15 

Independent Progressive Party (IPP), 

20. 42. 

inflation, 1970s, 43 
initiative measures, 42-43 
Internal Revenue Service, U.S., 63 

Jarvis-Gann tax limitation 

initiative (Prop. 13, 1978), 43 

Johnson, Ross, 43 

judges, appointment of, 13, 48, 59, 

Fazio, Vic, 10 

federal government, 56, 57, 59, 61- 


Fifteenth Assembly District, 11, 26 
Finance, Department of, 8, 54 
Franchise Tax Board, 7-8, 12, 43, 

44, 46, 63, 64 

and income tax withholding, 54-59 
Franchise Tax Commissioner, 45-46 

Keene, Jim, 61 

Kefauver, Estes, 14-15 

Kennedy. John F. , 13-15, 28-29, 34 

Kennedy, Robert, 34 

Kent, Roger, 23, 28. 33, 36, 37, 

47. 50. 60-61 
Knight Goodwin, 8 
Knowland, Joseph, 16-17 
Knox, John T. , 9 

labor unions, 6-7, 19, 20, 60 
legislature, legislation, 10-12, 

A3, 46. 47, 52, 54. 56-57, 63 

staff. 10. 35 

politics and, 13, 23-24, 33-34 

salaries, 52 
Life magazine, 1, 4 
Lincoln, Luther (Abe), 11, 26 
lobbying, lobbyists. 12, 25, 34, 60 
loyalty oath, 6 
Lynch, John, 44 

Malone, Bill, 12 

McAteer, Eugene, 12 

McCarthy, John, 53, 54 

McColgan, Charles J. , 45-46 

media, 1. 4. 14-15, 16. 35. 58. 62 

merchant marine, 18-19 

Mesple, Frank, 12 

Miller, George, Jr.. 10-11, 24. 30, 


Miller. George, III, 41 
Miller, George P. . 25 
Morse, Wayne, 29-30 
Mulford, Don, 53 
Munnell, William. 23 
Murphy, George, 40 

Nevins, Dick, 31 
Nixon, Pat. 63 

Nixon, Richard M. , 10. 34, 61. 62. 


auditor-controller, 13, 16-17, 21 
22. 46 

city council, 5. 21-22 

mayor, 2, 5, 16, 21 

See also Alameda County 
O'Brien, Larry, 14 
Odegard, Peter, 6 
O'Gara, Gerald, 15 
one man- one vote, 24 

Orr, Verne, 51 

Orrick. William H. . 61-62 

Osborne. Bob, 21 

0' Sullivan. Virgil, 24 

patronage, 35, 43 
Pearson, Osborne A. , 14, 20 
Peterson Tractor Co. , 4-5 
Petris, Nick, 9-13, 21. 26 
polls, political, 39-40 
Priest, Ivy Baker, 58-59 
public administration, 22 
Public Works, Department of, 9 
Purchio, John J. , 48 

Rattigan, Joe, 24 
Reagan, Ronald, 38, 77-78 

as governor, 2, 7, 47, 53-54, 58 

as president, 50. 51 
Reed. Dana, 9 
Reilly, George, 45 
Reinhardt, Stephen, 32 
renters, 43 
Republican party i Republicans, 8> 

21, 25. 30. 40, 43. 54, 61, 
Rice, George. 13 
Ringwalt, Louise, 60 
Rishell, Clifford, 21 
Rogers, Will, Jr.. 20 
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 28 
Rothenberg. Martin, 21 

Sacramento State University, 5-6 

Salinger, Pierre, 10, 37 

San Francisco, politics in, 12 

Secret Service, 13 

senate, California, 24-25 

secretary of state, office of, 58 

single- is sue politics, 41-43, 83 

Sloss, Nancy, 31 

Smith, Gordon Paul, 52-53 

Smith, Joe, 5 

Snyder, Liz, 24, 29 

Stevenson, Adlai, 15, 28, 30, 62, 


Stiern, Walter. 11 
Strathman, Earl. 17 
Sullivan. Ray. 35 
supreme court, 48 

tax reform, property. 9, 24-25, 43 
tax withholding, 51-59. 62, 63 
taxation, taxes, 43, 45-46, 51, 54, 


Teale. Stephen, 24 
Teitelbaum, Bernard. 60 
Tobriner. Matt, 48 
Toll Bridge Authority, 8-9 
Tomlinson. Jack, 59 
treasurer, office of, 58 
Tribune, Oakland, 16 
Tripp. Pete, 21 
Truman, Harry, 20 
Tunney, John, 61 

United Auto Workers, 7 

University of California, Berkeley, 

6, 26 

Extension, 19 
Unruh, Jesse M. , 14, 23, 33-34 

volunteers, in politics, 31, 35, 

36, 38. 40 
voters, voting, 34-35, 39-41 

Warren, Charles, 48 
Warschaw, Carmen, 33 
Weinberger, Caspar, 46, 51 
Whitecotton, Dr. , 17 
Williams, Bob, 8 
women, and politics, 29, 36 
World War II, experiences during, 

Gabrielle Morris 

Graduate of Connecticut College, New London, 
in economics; independent study in 
journalism and creative writing; additional 
study at Trinity College and Stanford University. 

Historian, U.S. Air Force, documenting Berlin 
Air Lift, other post-World War II issues. 
Public relations and advertising for retail 
and theater organizations in Connecticut. 
Research, writing, policy development on 
Bay Area community issues for University of 
California, Bay Area Council of Social Planning, 
Berkeley Unified School District, and others. 

Interviewer-editor, Regional Oral History 
Office, The Bancroft Library, 1970- 
Emphasis on local community and social history; 
and state government history documentation 
focused on selected administrative, legislative, 
and political issues in the gubernatorial 
administrations of Earl Warren, Goodwin Knight, 
Edmund G. Brown, Sr., and Ronald Reagan. 

1980- , director, Reagan Gubernatorial 
Era Project.